Retooled response: Local volunteers give feedback on Red Cross prototype vehicle

American Red Cross volunteers got a chance to give feedback Friday on a new emergency response vehicle prototype.

Red Cross volunteers Jim Dunn and Ceecy Nucker said they like what they see so much that they wish they could use the prototype this summer when they provide services to flood relief workers. The prototype, one of two that has been made, was on display at Dakota Square Mall on Friday and will be displayed at other locations across the state.

The volunteers’ feedback will be used to help make a final version to eventually replace the 320 emergency response vehicles in 49 states that are currently in operation.

The new vehicles have increased exterior lighting, heating and cooling capacity, storage capacity, client interaction space, along with multiple serving window options. They also include a GPS and messaging system, cambro loading system, WiFi Hotspot, back-up camera, tow hitch and an electrical power supply system.

Unlike the emergency vehicles currently in use, Minot Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross executive director Allan McGeough said this vehicle does not require a special driver’s license to drive. Anyone with an ordinary license can drive the vehicle. Nucker said it gave her a smooth ride when she drove it up from Bismarck. Even though it was windy, she didn’t feel it swaying with the wind. The vehicle is large, about the size of a small motor home, but the backup camera means they no longer need a second person signaling to help the driver back the vehicle into a parking spot.

The prototype vehicle has two service windows instead of one, which should make it more efficient to serve a crowd.

Nucker said she suggested a few minor changes, such as placing handles in different locations, but overall she is very pleased with it.

The Red Cross is asking everyone who drives the vehicle to fill out an extensive feedback survey.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our community to be a part of shaping the future of our services and the iconic Red Cross response vehicle,” said McGeough. “The Minot community will help ensure that this redesigned vehicle will effectively provide help, hope and comfort to people in need after disasters across the country.”

According to a press release, the prototypes are the result of a five-year process engaging Red Cross volunteers, staff, partners and the design community to create a vehicle that is more cost efficient and provides a better experience for both Red Cross volunteers and the people they help. The Red Cross uses the emergency response vehicles after disasters like home fires, tornadoes and floods to serve meals, snacks and beverages to families and distribute relief supplies.