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Operational Update: Search and Rescue Vehicle Unveiled, Flood Response in the U.S., and More



Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team members unveil the new search and rescue truck at Direct Relief headquarters on July 13, 2023. The truck was purchased through the support of Direct Relief’s Search and Rescue Fund. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Over the past seven days, Direct Relief has delivered 457 shipments of requested medical aid to 44 U.S. states and territories and 10 countries worldwide.

The shipments contained 11.4 million defined daily doses of medication, including first aid kits, vitamins, cardiovascular medicines, antibiotics, and more.

New Search and Rescue Vehicle Unveiled

This week, a specialized vehicle was unveiled at Direct Relief headquarters to strengthen search and rescue operations in Santa Barbara County, California, where Direct Relief is based. The Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team, a group of volunteers that operates under the auspices of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, is often called upon to conduct rescue and recovery missions throughout the county, including the steep terrain of the Santa Ynez mountains.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and members of the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team unveil the new search and rescue truck at Direct Relief headquarters on July 13, 2023. The truck was purchased through the support of Direct Relief’s Search and Rescue Fund. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

The vehicle can access flooded areas because of its high clearance and 40-inch wheels, and has specialized features, like 600-foot ropes for mountain rescues, and will enable the rescue team to access hard-to-reach areas during times of disaster or rescue calls in challenging conditions. The truck was funded by Direct Relief’s Search and Rescue Fund, established during winter storms this year in California. Direct Relief mobilized private resources to help equip search and rescue volunteers throughout California with the necessary gear and equipment. The initial focus will support SARs in the six counties that were identified this year under the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration: Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The organization also purchased a high-water rescue vehicle for the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), which is responsible for SAR units in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. This vehicle will be a shared resource among the three units.

Five years ago, after the 1/9 Montecito Debris Flow in Santa Barbara County, Direct Relief purchased vehicles and equipment for a number of first responder agencies, including UTVs, specialized rescue gear, and a new rescue truck for Santa Barbara County SAR. These vehicles and equipment were critical in their efforts to get to people who were injured or stranded after the devastating event.

Medical Aid Departs for Flooded Vermont

Medical aid departs for Rutland County Free Clinic in Rutland, Vermont, which has been impacted by flooding in recent days. Essential medications and personal care items for people who have been displaced were included in the shipment. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Shipments to flooded communities in Vermont departed Direct Relief’s warehouse Thursday, and included essential medications to manage conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as hygiene items for people displaced from their homes due to the floodwaters. More than 100 people were rescued from floodwaters this week as rivers rose, inundating communities throughout the state.

The Rutland County Free Clinic, located in Rutland, Vermont, serves uninsured adults living in the area, which was badly flooded. Some areas of the community are reachable only by helicopter, but clinic staff is working to provide outreach in accessible areas, and working to connect patients with needed medications, including those in local shelters.

On Thursday, Direct Relief shipped an emergency health kit, filled with essential items often requested for medical needs during and after disasters occur. The clinic also requested five field medic packs, which contain first aid items needed to provide medical care outside of clinic walls.

Vitamins, medications for high blood pressure, steroids and other medications were also shipped to the clinic. Fifty personal care kits, filled with items like soap and shampoo, were also shipped for people who have been displaced from their homes.

Midwife Kits Reach Birthing Center in Malawi

Direct Relief-donated Midwife Kits arrived recently at Pothawira Birthing Center, in Salima, Malawi. The birthing center provides obstetric and neonatal services in the region, and includes a women’s shelter where women can await their labor and delivery.

Dr. Anne Alaniz cares for a newborn at Pothawira Birthing Center in Malawi. The center recently received Midwife Kits from Direct Relief, which contain items to assist with safe births. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Anne Alaniz, co-founder of the Pothawira Project, which operates the birthing center, reported that the recently received Midwife Kits, which contain over 50 essential items to assist with safe births, have helped the facility increase capacity and serve more women.



This week, Direct Relief shipped 9.5 million defined daily doses of medication outside the U.S.

Countries that received medical aid over the past week included:

  • Ukraine
  • Fiji
  • Uganda
  • Malawi
  • Philippines
  • Syria
  • Bangladesh
  • Liberia
  • Haiti
  • Dominican Republic


Direct Relief delivered 443 shipments containing more than 11 tons of medications over the past week to organizations, including the following:

  • Clearwater Free Clinic, Florida
  • The Health Hut, Louisiana
  • Sierra Health Center – Fullerton, California
  • The Naloxone Project, Colorado
  • Eunice Community Health Center, Louisiana
  • Community Health Northwest Florida, Florida
  • St. Petersburg Free Clinic, Florida
  • Health Partners Free Clinic, Ohio
  • Madison Free Clinic, Virginia
  • Virginia Harm Reduction Coalition, Virginia


Since Jan. 1, 2023, Direct Relief has delivered 10,100 shipments to 1,955 healthcare providers in 55 U.S. states and territories and 71 countries.

These shipments contained 299 million defined daily doses of medication valued at $1.1 billion (wholesale), totaling 3.6 million lbs.

in the news

KEYT: New search and rescue vehicle unveiled at Direct Relief Headquarters

Santa Barbara News-Press: Designed to Save Lives“A new, custom-designed truck — complete with spools of 600 feet of thick ropes and other special features — is making it easier for search-and-rescue volunteers to save lives in Santa Barbara County. The new Ford F-450 truck has been used since February by the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team. And it was officially unveiled on a sunny Thursday afternoon outside the Direct Relief headquarters in Goleta.”

Fox Weather: Aid Organizations Prepare for Disaster Responses Summer weather patterns can lead to extreme events, including floods and hurricanes. A look at how aid organizations prepare for disaster response.

Santa Barbara Independent: Santa Barbara Airport Terminal Improvement Project Open House July 18: “The community is invited to join Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) for an informational open house regarding the proposed Terminal Improvement Project [at Direct Relief headquarters].”

Rabies Vaccines Arrive in Northwestern Syria: “The US organization Direct Relief recently provided northwestern Syria with a quantity of rabies and tetanus vaccines as part of the necessary medical aid to areas still suffering from the effects of the February 6 earthquake.

US NGOs Donate Medicines Worth Over US$53.3 mn (Colombo, Sri Lanka): “A stock of medicines worth US$ 53.3 million needed for cancer patients and children was handed over to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella by US Ambassador in Colombo Julie Chung yesterday. This stock of medicine includes about 16 types of medicines for skin diseases among small children, arthritis and cancer. This stock of medicine was donated by US-based NGOs Medical Help International and Direct Relief.”

More Than 100,000 Usage Sessions Recorded Per Year in the Dobrobut Mobile Application: “Dobrobut medical network launched a mobile application in 2016. The application allows you to access digital medical services on your phone: making an appointment with a doctor at any medical center “Dobrobut”, viewing advisory opinions, research results, paying for services, making an appointment for an online doctor’s explanation and much more. Thanks to cooperation with international charitable organizations Direct Relief International, Children of War Foundation, International Medical Corps and University of Miami Global Institute, as well as thanks to the work of the charitable foundation of the Dobrobut Foundation network, the network’s clinics, which continued their work even during hostilities, provided a significant part of medical services free of charge for months.”

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