Dennis Ferguson, IEEE Life Senior Member of the Central Texas LMAG, tells of his participation as IEEE-USA MOVE Truck supported El Paso (TX) humanitarian immigration efforts:


In 2021, as I moved into semi-retirement, I became interested in supporting the IEEE-USA MOVE truck. For those that might be unaware, these are two Sprinter vans supported by IEEE-USA, which bring internet and communications support to natural disasters, particularly hurricanes. While attending the online MOVE training, it became apparent that the first step to gaining access to disaster areas was to obtain Red Cross credentials (otherwise, law enforcement will not let one enter).

Accordingly, I gained my Red Cross credentials in August of 2022 and acquired through online training what is known as a DST GAP (disaster services technology, group/activity/position). DST is part of the logistics arm of the Red Cross and is less “client” facing than supporting the infrastructure needed for Red Cross personnel to do their jobs in a disaster. DST provides specialized cell phone and satellite (e.g. Starlink) internet access as well as cell phone hotspots, VPN, laptops, tablets, printers, and WiFi to client-facing Red Cross personnel. Note that DST is not IT, although that line can be somewhat blurred. In addition, I acquired the certification needed to drive an ERV (emergency response vehicle), the ubiquitous Sprinter van.

Since achieving my GAP, I’ve supported the Tennessee tornado relief efforts and, more recently, provided support to the El Paso immigration humanitarian efforts. While my GAP is technology-focused, the ERV-authorized driver skills were employed to load shelf-stabilized meals from central Texas and transport them to El Paso. The whole process is a different experience for me and rewarding in the sense that one gets different perspectives when interacting with first responders and forklift operators.

As I’m writing this piece, I am on standby to support anticipated flooding relief efforts in the central Texas area over the Mother’s Day weekend. Most of the Red Cross volunteers I have met are baby boomers like myself. Many come from highly skilled medical or technology backgrounds and enjoy the ability to employ those skills in support of their local communities as well as the country. As North America experiences more extreme weather events, the need for Red Cross volunteers to support relief efforts has never been higher.

The MOVE trucks are supported by the IEEE Foundation through the Life Member Committee.
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