Reservists Deliver Critical Firefighting Gear to Central America
By Senior Airman William Brugge/315th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs February 18, 2021
Members of the 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, delivered first responder equipment and aid to the people of Guatemala, February 7, 2021.
The donated equipment was picked up at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and was loaded onto two separate C-17s, operated by the 317th Airlift Squadron and the 701st Airlift Squadron, and flown to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Neale Brown, President of AMEDICAusa, a non-profit foundation that specializes in disaster relief and preparedness, received donations from fire departments and first responders across the United States to give to first responders in Guatemala.
“The cargo that is being carried today includes two fire engines, an ambulance, and supplies that will help 50 fire departments throughout Guatemala,” said Brown. “When we aren’t receiving cargo, we spend time training with first responders here in Guatemala.”
Nearly 250 firefighters were on the scene to receive the cargo, many driving as long as 12 hours to see the shipment of supplies arrive. Brown estimated that the donated equipment would benefit nearly 400,000 Guatemalans.
“Having the opportunity to deliver aid to those in need and being able to train for future missions down range makes missions like these beyond a valuable experience,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Robert Verlie, loadmaster with the 701st Airlift Squadron. “While we train, we also get to see the impact that the donated equipment has in the receiving nations.”
The supplies will be a crucial boost to departments that receive them. According to Brown, there are approximately 250 fire departments in all of Guatemala, many of which are undersupplied and in need of more modem equipment.
“Missions like this are a win-win for everyone involved,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant David Narvarez, loadmaster, 317th Airlift Squadron. “We were able to train while also delivering crucial aid to the people of Guatemala.”
The aid was coordinated through the Denton Program, enacted in 1985, that provides nongovernmental agencies, international organizations, and private voluntary donors the opportunity to use military aircraft when there is space available to transport humanitarian aid, a valuable tool for training, while helping out those in need around the globe at no extra cost to the taxpayer.