Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army are showing the value of partnership while DARPA shows the advances in using Technology to help in times of disaster. Many of the tools that are manufactured by Polaris are perfect for taking The Salvation Army closer to where the need is the greatest. At the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Teams from around the world demonstrate diverse approaches and expertise while collaborating toward a common goal: improving robotics for disaster response.

Recently in response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes, Polaris donated a number of off road support vehicles to assist The Salvation Army in disaster response. Demonstrating this partnership while DARPA continues to find ways to support disaster response is a natural fit.

The units on display walk, crawl and roll. They take inspiration from humans and animals, and come in sizes tall and small, skinny and wide. They represent five countries around the world. They are the robots of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, and they and their human operators have all been practicing very, very hard. (

The teams scheduled to compete in the DRC Trials—taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida—are a mix of government, academic and commercial organizations from around the globe. They vary from each other in many ways, such as team size and experience, focus on hardware and/or software, and the design and capabilities of their entries. What all teams share, however, is commitment to a common goal: to speed development of robots that could aid in response efforts after future natural and man-made disasters.

Kevin Smith, Director and Lance Rocks, Assistant Director of The Salvation Army, Emergency Disaster Services, Florida Division as representatives.

“Its perfect to be in Homestead, Florida watching how robotics are being used to make disaster response more efficient and less dangerous for responders when conditions may be too dangerous.” said Lance Rocks. “Homestead really was the starting point for modern day emergency management and seeing that robotics are now being introduced into the response field here gets you excited. Especially if the exponential growth is duplicated.”

The Salvation Army is very grateful to Polaris for its support. The Salvation Army is recognized because we serve at the time and place of the greatest need. Polaris's products takes us even further, and that is critical for our relief. Representatives from Polaris and The Salvation Army will be at the DARPA Challenge Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Get Ready, America: The National Hurricane Survival Initiative

This year marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most destructive storms ever to make landfall in North America: Hurricane Andrew. “Get Ready, America! The National Hurricane Survival Initiative” will look back on the devastation wrought by Andrew in 1992, the lessons learned since then, and what you need to know and do to stay safe before, during and after hurricane season. The Salvation Army is proud to partner with Ron Sachs Communications and other partners to bring you this important video message about hurricane safety and preparedness.

For more information on The Salvation Army and hurricane disaster relief, go to

Connect with us:
 The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services:  @SalArmyEDS,  Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services USA  SalArmyEDS

 Salvation Army USABlog  Salvation Army US  Salvation Army USA 
 Salvation Army Texas @SalArmyTX Salvation Army Texas

Man! I Should Have That! (or Five Things That Belong on Every Canteen)

This article originally appeared in The Savation Army’s Southern Spirit newspaper.

Sometimes I find it hard to write anything new about disaster canteens.

It’s not that I don’t love canteens — far from it. In fact, I can’t imagine a Salvation Army disaster program without them. But, when it comes to writing about our trusty mobile kitchens, it’s hard to find a new angle – especially one that doesn’t begin (and end) with the same old axiom, “and if you do nothing else, be sure to maintain your canteen!”

But what if you are already doing that? What if your canteen starts easily, the generator has been recently serviced and purrs contentedly when running, you’ve checked your tires for dry rot, and you’ve already tested all the major appliances, including lighting the stove – well, what else is there to do? Can anything be done to make that canteen even better?

Well … after a unit is mechanically sound, it’s time for outfitting. And, as in maintenance, your canteen may already be stocked with the basics: pots, pans, utensils, cleaners, sanitizers and disposable supplies, like garbage bags, clamshell food containers and cups. But beyond the basics, there are some handy items which may not come immediately to mind … but should be on every canteen.

So without further ado, here’s five things that make me say, “Man! I should have that!”

1. Food Thermometers. The most important responsibility of any canteen crew is to make sure all food is served safe. That means keeping cold food cold and hot food hot. That’s why a food thermometer is the number one item on my list. A food thermometer is the only sure way to monitor the temperature of food, and every canteen worker ought to have their own bimetallic stemmed thermometer and know how to properly calibrate it. And while you’re at it, splurge and buy a thermocouple for your canteen too. Thermocouples are digital thermometers that can get accurate readings in about 2 – 4 seconds, making them easier to use and more accurately read.

2. Disposable Gloves. Most people know to wear disposable gloves when handling food, but what often gets overlooked is how often those gloves need to be changed. Any time you change tasks or begin working with a different type of food, it’s also time to wash your hands and change to a fresh pair of gloves – so every canteen should have boxes of gloves on board. Oh … and be sure to use food grade, latex-free gloves. Handling food with latex gloves can be very dangerous to people allergic to latex and cause a life-threatening reaction.

3. Assorted Serving Spoons. Here’s a rule: one spoon is never enough. You should have at least a half dozen serving spoons on your canteen and ideally, a separate spoon for each type of food. This will help prevent cross contamination, especially if you are serving from a buffet line made up of multiple Cambro® food containers. Utensils with different colored handles are particularly helpful; you can designate specific colors for specific tasks, like green handles for salads and red for meats.

4. MREs / Shelf-Stable Meals. Adding a case of MREs (or shelf-stable meals) may seem like an odd recommendation for a canteen, until you consider that many items on our disaster menu, like beef stew, contain a number of different ingredients. This makes it hard to advise people with food allergies and special dietary restrictions exactly what’s in each dish we serve – and a mistake could make someone uncomfortable or worse dangerously sick. Manage this risk by having shelf stable meals on your canteen. Ingredients are clearly listed on each package so, in a pinch, you can offer these meals to individuals with dietary restrictions. is one my favorite choices for this type of product; a case of 12 assorted meals costs only about $60 and can last up to 5 years!

5. Numerex GPS Tracker. Want to always know where your canteen is? If your unit has a properly installed and operating GPS tracker on it, your wish is fulfilled. Simply login to, key in a user name and password, and you’ll be able to see on a map (down to street level) the location of your canteen. Now, it’s probably not a good idea publish those passwords here, but trust us. On a major disaster, our GPS system helps disaster personnel keep track of the myriad of mobile disaster units deployed and their movements. If you want to know more or your canteen doesn’t have a working GPS unit installed, contact your divisional EDS director.

That wraps up my fab five canteen items, but I’m sure that there are plenty of other enterprising canteen gurus who have even more. I’d love to hear what you consider essential gear; drop me a note at

The Salvation Army Responds to Waldo Canyon Fire

Colorado Springs, CO (June 24, 2012) – In response to the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs on June 23, 2012, The Salvation Army is assessing the needs of disaster survivors and The Salvation Army’s ability to respond to those needs – both immediately and for the longer term.

At the Cheyenne Mountain High School evacuee shelter, The Salvation Army’s local Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) unit is providing for survivors’ immediate needs, such as food, water, comfort, and counseling. At this time, The Salvation Army is preparing breakfast for 250 evacuees.

An appeal is being made for financial assistance to fund the relief work in Colorado Springs. Those who wish to support The Salvation Army’s disaster response may do so by sending a check earmarked “Disaster Relief” to their local Salvation Army office, or by donating online at, or by making a credit card donation at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.