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Volunteers Needed to Keep Red Cross Vehicle in Texoma

<P>The local chapter of the American Red Cross sent its emergency response vehicle to Jolly this afternoon to supply water and food to firefighters who battled that wildfire in Jolly.</P> <P>Unfortunately, that van is in jeopardy of being taken off the streets of Texoma.</P> <P>Mechell Dixon explain why.</P>

American Red Cross volunteers are expected to load up and head to a disaster within 24 hours of receiving a call.

But organization officials say it's tough sending out a team when there are only six people trained to man the van.

That's why the Red Cross is desperately looking for volunteers to keep the vehilce in Texoma.

The American Red Cross' emergency response vehicle, or E.R.V. for short, can help dozens, even hundreds immediately after a disaster.

But if the organization doesn't get more volunteers to man this van... it could be steered out of Texoma.

"It's owned by the American Red Cross national organization and it's on loan to us. It's checked out to us. It's ours to take care of and be responsible for but part of that responsibility is to make sure that we can always man it," says Katrina Farmer, executive director for the American Red Cross North Central Texas chapter.

So far, only six volunteers are trained to handle the vehicle.

"It takes three classes to learn about the ERV. You take a food handlers class. E.R.V class and defensive driving class," says Kathy Smith, a Red Cross volunteer.

"It's always good to give back. There's nothing like that feeling and being able to give back to your community, to help others," adds Duke Osborn, who also volunteers with the Red Cross.

Volunteers can serve hot meals from this van or pack it full of supplies for firefighters and disaster victims.

"It's a big responsibility to have that many volunteers that are willing and able to take time off of work or they're retired and they're willing to go and do it." It's a hard job. It's a lot of fun but it's a lot of work, as well... but it's so rewarding to help people out," says Farmer.

Last year, the local E.R.V was destroyed while helping firefighters in East Texas.

And because that chapter did not always have volunteers who could readily hit the road in the vehicle... it was given to the Wichita Ralls chapter.

So, local Red Cross officials want to secure as many volunteers as possible so the E.R.V. can continue helping Texomans when disasters strike.

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