Automotive & Transport

Red Cross search and rescue teams now equipped with emergency vehicle to save more lives

The Red Cross welcomes a new Land Rover Discovery into its emergency response fleet. This comes 64 years after Land Rover first donated a vehicle to the Red Cross and the partnership is still helping vulnerable people all over the world facing the challenges of today*.  

The bespoke vehicle will provide eyes in the sky via a special drone and all-terrain wheels on the ground, as an emergency response vehicle with the Austrian Red Cross search and rescue operations.

The specially designed and engineered Discovery features:

  • state of the art communications equipment
  • an advanced eight rotor drone – a long range thermal imaging camera fitted to the drone is capable of spotting a person from 440m and can identify a vehicle almost 1,000m away
  • video feeds which track objects through providing precise co-ordinates
  • four radio antennae
  • 360-degree lighting

The Discovery vehicle will operate as a mobile command and communication centre for emergencies from which the Austrian Red Cross experts can direct rescue operations. It also allows emergency crews to reach remote disaster zones quickly in all conditions, and provide instant updates to improve response times and co-ordinate emergency planning. The vehicle will be based in Vienna at the Austrian Red Cross training centre in Erzberg, in the mountainous Eisenerz mining area.

The Austrian Red Cross has about 75,000 volunteers and provides 24/7 emergency medical and rescue services nationwide.

As Austria is a mountainous region, there are many tourists and locals enjoying the outdoors every day. As a result, every year there are hundreds of search and rescue operations, where people go missing outside of towns. In those cases, the Austrian Red Cross has previously been completely dependent on rescue dogs, which are regularly on alert.

Now, the Land Rover Discovery Emergency Response Vehicle will help the canine volunteers to give them support from above.

Gerry Foitik, member of the managing board of the Austrian Red Cross said: “After months of collaboration, we’re now excited to use the Land Rover vehicle in emergencies.  This will make disaster response in hazardous environments safer, quicker and more efficient.”

Michael van der Sande, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: “Since the start of relationship in 1954, our aim has been to help the Red Cross improve its disaster response capability and ultimately to help save lives. Over the past 18 months our engineers have worked closely with the emergency response team at the Austrian Red Cross, deploying Land Rover’s technology and talent to create a unique solution to the requirements of the Red Cross in the region.”

*Land Rover’s close relationship with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) began, with the donation of a vehicle to be used as a mobile dispensary in the deserts of Dubai in 1954. Since then, Land Rover has donated more than 120 vehicles to the IFRC, helping the organisation reach more vulnerable communities across the globe.

This Emergency Response Vehicle is just one example of the increasingly collaborative nature of what is now a multi-million pound strategic global partnership.

At the start of the millennium, the donation and loan of vehicles had become just one facet of a growing relationship between Land Rover and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In 2007 it moved to a formal footing with the first phase of the strategic partnership, and since then, Land Rover has supported projects in nearly 30 countries on four continents from Austria and Australia to Uganda and the UK.

The partnership is also exploring ways of innovating, sharing skills and adding value to the IFRC’s core business of emergency response. This often means Land Rover’s staff working or volunteering at projects. In Spain, staff have been teaching the basics of mechanics to people who are unemployed, while in Italy, Land Rover volunteers visit the streets of Milan and Rome to hand out food and drink to the homeless.

Jemilah Mahmood, IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Partnerships, explained that: “The Land Rover partnership enables the Red Cross to do more to create a strong social impact and legacy in vulnerable communities. Through long-term commitment and collaboration we are continuing to demonstrate the value of working with private sector organisations.”

“We are constantly looking to innovate and achieve more together, through fundraising, staff volunteering and product development – such as with the Austrian Red Cross and the Discovery Emergency Response Vehicle.”