12 August 2023, US: Last fall, CASE Construction Equipment asked its dealers to help support a new initiative with Team Rubicon: train more volunteers to operate heavy equipment for its veteran-led humanitarian organization that serves global communities before, during and after disasters and crises. CASE dealers responded.
Earlier this year, the pilot program commenced with two of the interested CASE dealers: RPM Machinery, out of their Franklin, Indiana, location; and Lawrence Equipment, at their Roanoke, Virginia, store. On a monthly basis, these dealers provide machines for Team Rubicon volunteers to train on, an indoor classroom and outdoor operating space.
“As soon as we heard about the need to help train more heavy equipment operators, we raised our hand,” says Dustin Cole, executive vice president of Lawrence Equipment. “We’re very active in our local communities and want to ensure Virginia is prepared if disaster strikes, as well as help train volunteers to deploy wherever they are needed throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
CASE and its parent company’s foundation, CNH Industrial Foundation, have been long-time supporters of Team Rubicon. CASE deploys machinery through its dealer network to numerous disaster response and community service projects across North America, while the Foundation has supported efforts with monetary support. “The work that Team Rubicon does aligns with the company’s sustainability goals and the CNH Industrial Foundation’s priorities,” says Michelle Javaherian, community impact manager, CNH Industrial. “We’ve made many donations over the years. Last year, the CNH Industrial Foundation gave $600,000 USD to support Team Rubicon’s Ready Reserve Fund and heavy equipment operator training in the U.S. and Canada.”
Team Rubicon’s volunteers, which go by “Greyshirts,” register for the monthly training and learn how to operate compact track loaders and excavators. “One of the most critical tasks after disasters strike is getting much-needed resources to that area. Our Greyshirts, including sawyers and heavy equipment operators, help clear trees and debris from roads, allowing first responders and survivors to regain access to the community,” says William Porter, director of operations support, Team Rubicon.
As an example, mere hours after Hurricane Ian hit Florida in 2022, Team Rubicon — with the help of heavy equipment — conducted 37 route clearance events, removing about 660 dump trucks’ worth of debrisand a total of 131 obstructions.“Having more trained heavy equipment operators increases the capacity of Team Rubicon to provide this essential assistance for communities, allowing survivors to move toward the path to recovery,” continues Porter.
“One of RPM’s core values is doing the right thing. Supporting Team Rubicon by preparing their Greyshirts to safely and effectively operate machinery is the right thing to do,” says Fred Rohlman, president at RPM Machinery. “We signed up right away when CASE shared this opportunity.”
Greyshirts must undergo a background check and complete a brief online Team Rubicon training course. If within 450 miles of a participating CASE dealer location, they receive a notice through the Team Rubicon newsletter and social media channels, encouraging their participation in heavy equipment training.
“CASE’s purpose is to build communities and — when disaster strikes — rebuild them,” says Rebecca Bortner, marketing director, CASE Construction Equipment. “Our dealers help amplify that purpose every day, by wholeheartedly participating in opportunities like this, as well as supporting their local communities through myriad ways, including educating the next generation of tradespeople and raising funds for charities.”
This training has been put to use by Team Rubicon in all phases of the disaster cycle across the United States, including wildfire mitigation, hurricane response and long-term storm recovery.
CASE and Team Rubicon plan to expand the number of dealers participating in this heavy equipment operator training program in 2024.
Founded following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Team Rubicon has grown to more than 160,000 volunteers across the United States and has launched over 1,100 operations domestically and internationally.
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