• Michelle Hartfield

The Salvation Army Expands Cadre of Specialized Disaster Response Equipment

As part of a 2022 IMPACT Grant from the Lilly Endowment, The Salvation Army Southern Territory pledged to expand its cadre of specialized disaster equipment to strengthen its capacity to respond to large concurrent disasters in a region experiencing increasing hurricanes and tornado events.  


To achieve this goal, the Southern Territory commissioned the production of 16 new mobile feeding units from Embassy Specialty Vehicles, two for each of its eight divisions. In May, EDS professionals from throughout the territory traveled to the Embassy headquarters to view and approve the final prototype before production. The first of these vehicles will be delivered to the Florida division this month to be stationed and ready for the 2024 hurricane season at the Clay County, Florida Salvation Army. The other 15 units are scheduled to roll out as completed throughout the year.


Steven Hartsook, Florida Divisional EDS Director is pleased he will to have the unit in hand before the ramp up of the 2024 hurricane season. “This unit will add response capacity to northeast Florida and will be available to respond throughout Florida and the Southeast United States. We are incredibly grateful for the support from the Lilly Foundation to assist us in increasing our ability to serve disaster survivors.”


These vehicles not only expand and update the existing fleet but also contain innovative new technologies, including a battery power system, GPS tracking, onboard Starlink connectivity to enable teams to navigate and provide internet connectivity to survivors who might otherwise be unable to navigate online assistance systems.


In addition to the mobile feeding units, the Salvation Army has added two shower/restroom trailers, a new bunkhouse trailer, and a portable generator for use in base camp setup as well as a FORTS portable building and a mobile command post. A new refrigerated trailer and box truck will allow quick and safe transportation of food to the frontlines of a disaster, and a vehicle maintenance trailer will support faster fleet maintenance while actively deployed on site.


To round out these technology acquisitions, the Southern Territory has acquired a Starlink mobile satellite internet system for each of its eight divisions to have on hand for quick and easy deployment. One of the most significant challenges in the first days of disaster response is downed communication networks. These systems will allow Salvation Army teams to navigate affected areas and coordinate their efforts quickly to provide service as soon as possible.