RUTLEDGE — Rutledge is one of the smallest municipalities in the county, but it is about to have a countywide impact for emergency response services.
County officials joined with local Salvation Army leaders to unveil the charitable agency's new service canteen that will provide food and water for emergency personnel and persons affected by disaster. The canteen will be housed in the former Rutledge Fire Company building on Unity Terrace and will service the entire county in times of emergency events.
“Here in Delaware County we were approached by the emergency services department with a problem: How can we provide feeding and hydration services to disaster survivors, and first responders in our communities?” said Salvation Army Interim Division Emergency Disaster Services Director Luke Rodgers. “It was a gap for the county, and one the Salvation Army was uniquely qualified and in a position to fill.
“Today, we are unveiling the start of the Delaware County Canteen Program.”
According to Rodgers, canteen response had previously been covered by the organization’s Philadelphia team.
The canteen is a “kitchen on wheels” as Rodgers described it. There are microwaves, a cook top and a refrigerator on the truck. Three people are able to man it at a team, but a crew of up to 12 is needed for the program operations at an emergency event.
The truck will be housed at Rutledge rent-free, but it will be services by volunteers on an at-need basis.
Rutledge Borough Council President Heidi Sentivan said it was part of the borough’s comprehensive plan to put that building to an appropriate use after sitting mostly unused since Rutledge merged with Morton Fire Company in 2010.
“I’m happy the building has a use,” she said at Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting of the program. “It’s in a prime location and that it can be reused is great”
Delaware County Director of Emergency Services Timothy Boyce said he and the Salvation Army are no strangers to each other, working together at a number of emergency response sites including an early morning hazmat situation in Chester as recently as May 17.
“At time people just need a little bit of humanity,” said Boyce. “I know we speak of disaster response, but when you think of when someone has lost everything-a fire, a flood, recent tornadoes- what we don’t want them to lose is hope. When volunteers show up…. that human touch is really the generosity that lets people go on, so we’re grateful for that.
“In Delaware County we believe strongly in that volunteering commitment.”
Boyce expects the canteen’s use to be frequent at fire calls, especially with the temperatures increases, to insure all persons are kept hydrated.