All in a weekend: JBC's 315th Reserve Citizen Airmen deliver humanitarian aid to Dominican Republic

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Clark
  • 315th Airlift Wing

The fire department and citizens of this city of 286,000 will benefit with help from a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and a team of Reserve Citizen Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 315th Airlift Wing who delivered a fire truck, an ambulance, and firefighting equipment here, May 31, 2019.

The dual-purpose weekend humanitarian and training mission allowed for the Reserve aircrew to maintain flying currency and readiness requirements, with the added benefit of delivering humanitarian aid to organizations in the Caribbean via the Denton Cargo Program.

Military aircrews must fly regularly to maintain their currency, and missions like these are planned to allow flyers to meet all their readiness requirements with while serving a humanitarian cause.

The cargo, weighing in at nearly 33,000 pounds, consisted of a fire truck, an ambulance, myriad related firefighting equipment, tools, clothing, protective gear, and rescue equipment, all of which was donated by the Rochester Fire Department Engine 1 in Rochester, New York.  It was handed over directly to personnel from the fire department in Puerto Plata, who were on the scene to accept the delivery.

For the aircrew, the mission allowed them to practice unique skills that can't be replicated while flying within the continental U.S., such as coordinating with international air traffic controllers and ground crews, flying over water, and navigating in foreign airspace.

The city of Puerto Plata, as well as its province of 471,000 people, is expected to benefit through the improvements in the ability of the fire departments in the region to provide firefighting and rescue services.  An earlier delivery dropped off an ambulance that was the first for Puerto Plata's fire department.

Rochester and Puerto Plata are Sister Cities, which allows for the exchange of resources, training, and expertise between the two cities.  Their relationship is managed by the Puerto Plata Rochester Sister Cities Committee, or PPRSCC.  Mayors from the respective cities signed the relationship into effect 20 years ago, and since then have made formal visits to and from each others communities.

The Denton Cargo Program, as authorized by the Denton amendment, is a State Department/USAID program that enables humanitarian charities and U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations to use space available on military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need.  Consequently, these missions are flown at no or minimal additional cost to the U.S. taxpayers.  Cargo goes through a vetting process to ensure it meets standards and will most benefit its intended recipients.  

To help ensure that the firefighting equipment would be put to best use, training manuals and materials were translated into Spanish, and Spanish-speaking firefighters from Rochester volunteered their own time to accompany Puerto Plata firefighters on both training and real-world firefighting runs throughout the Rochester area.  Training had been delivered by the Rochester FD on how to get the best use out of the new equipment.