Strengthening The Red Cross


  • The Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) is American Red Cross’ most important symbol. How can this be strengthened to further assist in their mission to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies?


  • Key insight: The ERVs are in use while they are responding to a disaster. During the “down time,” they stand parked, costing the American Red Cross (ARC) more than when they are in use.
  • We convert this “Down time” to “Up time.” We use the ERV when it is not being used for disaster response, to spread the message of preparedness and to promote the mission and visibility of ARC to encourage donations.


  • The process of this project has been documented here. It involved 3 milestones of presentations to ARC– 1) Strategic priorities, 2) Three design directions 3) Final action plan and design proposal.

The ERV System

The ARC uses the ERV to transport resources to the site of disasters. Each ERV is like a sensor, with the volunteers, to get critical information back to the center intelligence. This keeps the complex system of disaster response working. After immersive research, the system was mapped below.

Re-purposing the “down time”


No more “down-time”

We use the ERV during the down-time to help raise awareness and promoting preparedness. Food and beverages are distributed during local community events from the ERV window. Meanwhile, we spread the message of the American Red Cross. There are 2 screens on either side of a folding panel built into the ERV.

Better response to disaster

These screens are used during disaster response, to give weather forecasts, make announcements, and give safety instructions. The balloon lights are deployed on the roof of ERV for increased visibility in media and to clients. The balloon inflates in seconds to give glare free white light which signals hope and care to the clients.


Objective of the “Up time”

Clarifies the positive role of ARC to the public: Branding

Messages that we have collected from the field are displayed. Compelling stories of hope which keep volunteers motivated. The visitors hear stories of survivors, see thank you notes and pictures from the field.
Promotes preparedness for disaster: Furthering the mission

This platform is also used for promoting preparedness. Visitors receive information and samples of items they can purchase like preparedness kits.
Creates a platform for giving: Donation

The visitors get donation information, and to contribute to the ARC.


Objective of the “Respond time”

Several features were added to the interior of the ERV to decrease fatigue for the volunteers and so increase the quality of care. While there were incremental changes such making the serving table so it can slide for easy access to the Cambros, there were also whole new features like additional fold out seating and a separate window for counseling so that the food serving from the main window is not slowed down.

Remove barriers, improve the interaction between the client and the volunteer

Improve ergonomics of the ERV and its systems for the volunteer experience.


Roll out plan

Our roll out plan for the ‘Up time’ ERV, makes sure that we give enough time for testing the features, and achieve the goal of ONE ARC, through the ERVs by 2014.

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