Knoxville, TN — July 10, 2009
Tractor-trailers typically haul freight across the country, but some are used to help put lives back together after a disaster - with some assisting in saving lives.
John Arscott, president of Peterbilt of Knoxville, Inc., has donated three tractor-trailers and an indoor parking facility, which will house the three trucks and provide room for six offices, to help the efforts of First Response Team of America, a nonprofit disaster relief company.
The Knoxville-based emergency response company is the brainchild of Chairman and CEO Tad Agoglia. In 2007, Agoglia was working in his contracting company, Disaster Discovery Solutions, and traveling to disaster areas one or two months after a storm to clean up debris. From this experience he developed a theory that communities might need help clearing roads so emergency personnel could get through after a natural disaster.
In May 2007, after a tornado in Greensburg, Kan., Agoglia decided to test his theory.
"So from that experience I realized there was a need for equipment to open up roads, but I also realized from being a first-hand first responder that there was more equipment needed," Agoglia said. "Power was needed. Communication was needed. Pumping water was needed. Water rescue was needed. People with experience on how to deal with disaster were needed."
"I decided at that point to take Disaster Discovery Solutions, take all of its equipment, all of its employees and all of its profits that it had made over the many years to create the First Response Team," Agoglia continued. "And now we've responded to 25 storms. Two years later, some of the biggest hit in the United States. And it's working. And we're really helping thousands of people a year."
Arscott is a supporter of Agoglia's work and decided he needed to help.
"He (Agoglia) is just an incredible individual that is giving so much of himself to the community," Arscott said. "I can see directly he's got a need. We have the trucks; it just made sense."
The three trucks supplied by Peterbilt, located at 5218 Rutledge Pike, are customized to the needs of the First Response Team of America.
One will have a crane with a large claw to clear roads, Agoglia said. A generator will be attached to another truck, and it also will have a hovercraft for water rescues, a water pump and a light tower so the First Response Team of America can provide light to communities. The third will be a supply truck and will have diesel fuel, tools, forklifts, welders, communication equipment, including satellite phones and laptops, and rescue equipment.
Agoglia's team watches weather patterns to determine the worst-hit areas then shows up with the trucks to begin clearing the roads. The trucks have to be reliable so the team can do its job, he noted.
"A lot of times these trucks are used for business; you know to make money, haul freight, things like that," Agoglia said. "Down time means loss of profit. For us, down time could mean loss of life. So we really need the best trucks."
The new trucks will replace Agoglia's current fleet.
"These trucks are bigger; they're stronger; they're newer than what I used to have," Agoglia said. "So that means they're going to be more reliable; they're going to do a better job; they're going to be stronger. They're going to make our fleet very much more dependable and much more effective."