A Personal Contribution

It seems to me…

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” ~ Muhammad Ali.

April traditionally is a busy month for my wife and me.  Along with normal activities like re-emerging from the house after hibernating over the winter, spring school breaks (visits from grandkids), traditional Easter family gatherings, and other activities common with everyone else during the month, it also is our month as Red Cross volunteers to be on-call for disaster response to wherever we are needed.

American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV)

To provide technology support for disaster operations, we temporarily station a Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) close to our home for the month.  ECRV operators are expected to be out-the-door and on their way within 2-4 hours after being notified and then can anticipate spending several weeks at a disaster site(s). Its operators are called on as needed to drive the vehicles to and from disaster locations and provide support until normal communications and resources are restored.

An ECRV is packed with communications gear and it and its crew often is the first Red Cross presence on the scene of a disaster.  Volunteer operators are trained and prepared to quickly set up communication, networking, and internet access providing rapid short-term connectivity (both voice and data) at a disaster location.

The Red Cross has 12 similar vehicles strategically located across the country so they can arrive on the scene of any disaster location normally within hours of a disaster occurrence.  The vehicles, extensively modified with an 8.5KW engine-driven electrical generator, are equipped to quickly set up communication connectivity through a roof-mounted VSAT satellite dish system, multiple radio capabilities (providing cross-band communication permitting interagency coordination using non-compatible radio frequencies), multiple antenna feeds to associated radios and data systems, and a pop-up 58 ft. pneumatic mast (capable of rotating while holding a large shortwave Yagi antenna).

These vehicles have been used in every significant relief operation since 2002 including essentially all hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires that have occurred since then.  When nothing else is working in a disaster zone, ECRV-based laptops, cell phones, and radios will!

The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to aid their neighbors for over 125 years.  Every year disaster victims all over the country turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities, and world. Almost 4 million people give blood — the gift of life — through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

The Red Cross is only one of many organizations dedicated to providing help following emergencies, finding cures for disease, or contributing in some other way.  As individuals, there is little we can do to help others when disaster strikes; but by working together, we can provide assistance when and where it is needed. Everyone has some way of contributing. Won’t you?

That’s what I think, what about you?

About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Communications, Disaster, ECRV, Emergency, Red Cross, Relief, Response, Volunteer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Personal Contribution

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  2. seo says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!


    • lewbornmann says:

      Thank you but, no, I definitely am not a “famous” blogger and would not even want to be. I hope there never are so many comments on something I write that it becomes difficult to reply to everyone. As a college professor, I always knew I learned as much from teaching as (hopefully) students in my classes did. In graduate-level classes, there occassionally would be a student taking the class who knew more about the subject than me — it was one of the things that made teaching enjoyable. Similarly, it is responses to what I post that provide a similar feedback that I look forward to.


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    • lewbornmann says:

      Thank you. There are many excellent blogs out there and realize my abilities as a serious pundit of current events can not compare with many of them. Still, I enjoy expressing my perspective and will continue to do my best.


  4. auntyuta says:

    You are to be congratulated for being Red Cross volunteers. The Red Cross is a wonderful organisation: Working in the spirit of service to others, as said in the quote at the beginning of your blog. I hope you and your family had some lovely get togethers over the Easter period.
    Thanks for writing this blog.


    • lewbornmann says:

      It always is amazing to see how many people respond and provide assistance when disaster strikes. I have met very few people who given a short rest after return home following deploying several weeks in a disaster area are not willing to return. In many ways, it truely is the hardest job you will ever love…


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