March 6, 2019
Caterpillar’s purpose statement is simple – Our solutions help our customers build a better world. But in some cases, it’s rebuild a better world.
Take the recent EF3 tornado in Columbus, Mississippi, which damaged 500 homes and 40 businesses. Debris blocked roads and sidewalks, making it difficult for life-saving assistance to get to those who needed it.
That’s where the First Response Team of America and Caterpillar come in. The 11-year partnership between Caterpillar and the nonprofit ensures that the right equipment is on scene at the right time to clear the way for ambulances, fire trucks, police and other disaster responders.
The Caterpillar Foundation has supported FRTA through funding in the past, and Caterpillar dealers donate heavy equipment, often through their Cat Rental Stores. In the recent Columbus tornado, Thompson Machinery lent FRTA a 415F2 backhoe and a 249D CTL from their rental fleet.
“Communities can count on us because we can count on dealerships like Thompson Machinery and Caterpillar equipment,” said Tad Agoglia, FRTA founder and longtime Caterpillar customer. “It’s in times like these, when so much has gone wrong, that communities are looking for things they can depend on. That’s when we come in with the right equipment to clear the path for recovery, so people can have hope again.”
After the recent Columbus tornado, FRTA used the Cat equipment to first to clear roadways so utility workers could restore power. Then they turned their attention to a local school that was hit by the tornado, clearing trees and other debris, then cleared roads to a cemetery so a burial could take place.
“We can’t solve all the problems caused by a storm, but we can make a contribution,” Agoglia said.
Since 2007, FRTA has responded to more than 120 communities damaged by tornados, floods, hurricanes ice storms and earthquakes. By monitoring weather patterns, they pre-position their fleet near potential storm locations and can arrive to disasters with the first few critical hours.
Since shortly after its founding, FRTA has received ongoing support from Caterpillar and dealers in the form of funding, equipment donations and rental fees.
Because of this relationship, Caterpillar and FRTA have been a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Best Partnership Finalist.
“The FRTA crew can be on the road for 10 months of the year, responding all over the country at no cost to the local community,” states the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation summary of the partnership. “They never know exactly what equipment will be needed, but they can depend on local Caterpillar dealers to provide the equipment for the task at hand.”
For more information about FRTA, visit http://firstresponseteam.org/.