VENTURA, Calif. - Direct Relief is not only providing for people in need around the world, but they are also giving back in a big way locally.
The organization donated not one, but two, emergency vehicles to the Ventura City Fire Department.
"We honestly never had this happen before," said Ventura Fire Chief David Endaya. His department is the proud new owner of two vehicles donated by Direct Relief.
"It is what we do," said Andrew Maccalla.
Maccalla is the Director of International Programs & Emergency Preparedness and Response at Direct Relief. He decided to do this after hearing how Ventura firefighters evacuated nearly 27,000 people the night of the Thomas Fire... in the dark... without electricity... and without losing a single life.
"We have the best trained firefighters and first responders in the world here, and they just lacked some equipment that they needed to do their job better and Direct Relief was in a position to be able to help," said Maccalla.
The organization asked the department what was needed, and on Thursday it arrived.
"What we needed was an operational chief officer command vehicle, and a truck that is going to be used for many purposes. Its primary purpose, because we are here in Ventura, is going to be for ocean rescues," said Endaya.
"We have gear specifically set up for ocean rescue swimmers, so they can get out on to the beach quickly," said Fire Captain Shawn Hughes.
"Now we actually have a vehicle that we can deploy at night and at dangerous times during high tides and low light, where we can take the vehicle out on the sand and get our people out to where the victims are more quickly," said Endaya.
The truck will not only be used for ocean rescues, it will also support wildland fires, flooding, and urban search and rescue operations.
"I mean both of these trucks are very expensive, they are state-of-the-art. And not only did they give us one, they gave us two," said
Ventura Mayor Matt Lever said, "It just shows the amazing work that Direct Relief is doing both locally and around the world."
"Direct Relief works in 100 countries and all 50 States and territories but Santa Barbara and Ventura County -- this is our home -- and this is where we have been for over 71 years, and we feel honored to help," said Maccalla.