With evacuation orders lifted in Paradise after last month’s deadly Camp Fire, Direct Relief is supplying first responders with $500,000 in funding for specialized equipment such as off-road vehicles and search and response gear.
“This equipment will allow us to better respond to any new emergencies as a result of the Camp Fire,” said John Messina, Assistant Chief, Butte County Fire Department.”
Purpose-built vehicles and response equipment are critical during major emergencies. Rugged vehicles and other search and rescue equipment purchased by Direct Relief for the Santa Barbara City Fire Department’s response to last winter’s Montecito Mudslide were used to aid search and recovery in Paradise. A regional task force of firefighters from Santa Barbara County traveled to Paradise assist with the search for remains and used the four off-road vehicles as well as two trucks and trailer purchased by Direct Relief.
“They worked in areas that had not been searched and while they were there, it rained more than 6 inches, making the job even more difficult,” said Battalion Chief Jim McCoy, adding that the vehicles “allowed us to do our job even better.” And according to Sergio Sanchez, the Battalion Leader for SB County’s regional task force, the off-road vehicles and trucks enabled their team to complete their home to home search in 1/3 of the time it would have normally.
Since the Camp Fire began six weeks ago, Direct Relief has responded consistently to requests for emergency assistance. To date, the organization has delivered 52 emergency shipments of medications, medical supplies, and other essentials to 16 health providers and response organizations in fire-affected areas of Northern California.
With over 18,000 structures in Paradise burned and the area’s only medical center closed until at least 2020, the recovery process just beginning.
Direct Relief remains committed to supporting the affected communities, local organizations and residents on the long road ahead.