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Local Salvation Army Workers Assist First Responders

When accidents and fires occur, Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services volunteers assist emergency crews.

Amidst the flurry of sirens, flashing lights and fire hoses when a fire broke out Monday in a Plymouth Township home, a group of Salvation Army workers were offering their own support as crews battled the blaze.

While these workers might not strap on oxygen tanks or enter burning houses, they provide crucial support by keeping first responders warm and hydrated as they exhaustively fought a devastating fire on a frigid, snowy night. 

The crew is the Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services, and they respond to fires and major accidents, assisting both emergency crews and victims with an RV, called a canteen, stocked with hot coffee and cocoa, soft drinks, food and blankets. 

Chuck McDougall of Southfield, director of the Eastern Michigan division of the Emergency Disaster Services, said the canteen on the scene Monday was one of about a dozen around the eastern part of the state, including four in the Metro Detroit area.

McDougall said his crew, which includes 175 volunteers, arrive to a variety of disaster situations both large and small. He said he was among those who arrived Dec. 31 to assist crews in the wake of a fatal 30-car accident on I-75 near Detroit. 

In the case of Monday's fire, crews emerged from the house fire soaked and cold, many in need of a hot beverage. 

"Right away we've got coffee and hot drinks (for responders)," McDougall said. "We've got snacks onboard. If it comes down to us being here for a while, we'll make up some hot dogs or something."

McDougall said the canteen also is stocked with fresh socks, gloves and blankets.

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services effort is active nationwide, as well.

According to the organization's website, crews were on hand during the recent Alabama hostage standoff, and aid in relief efforts following tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

For more information about the Eastern Michigan division of the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, check out its website.

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