Emergency Disaster ServicesMagazine Exclusive

On Inauguration Day, EDS serves in Boston

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) in Massachusetts is always ready to respond to events such as massive fires and storms. But in January, they were asked to weather a different type of storm.

Following the attack on the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C. on January 6th, police forces in major cities were on high alert for the possibility of further unrest and violence. On January 20th, the day of the Presidential Inauguration, all eight of the Salvation Army’s Massachusetts EDS teams were ready to deploy to multiple locations, if necessary.

“We received a request to work with Boston Sparks (an area fire rehab association) and be at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center where the majority of police would be during the day,” says Emily Mew, Massachusetts EDS state coordinator.


Responding to a threat

Two canteens, from Lynn and Fitchburg, arrived at the Center. When notification came of an active threat in the area, police officers split their forces. While some stood by at the Center, others patrolled the streets.

The EDS teams adjusted their original plan accordingly. The Lynn canteen stayed at the Center, and Fitchburg canteen followed officers into the city. Dave MacDonald, the EDS leader for Fitchburg, operated the canteen on the streets.

“Once we got the order from Emily to go to Boston, we prepared enough food for 500 to 600 first responders,” said MacDonald. The menu included American chop suey, salad, water, energy drinks, and hundreds of sandwiches. Mew followed MacDonald’s canteen in a pick–up truck. This allowed for faster service. The team could easily stop, give food and snacks to first responders, and continue through the town without delay.

“As the truck got low on supplies, we restocked it with items from the canteen. We travelled in a caravan with members from Boston Sparks who led us through the busy streets. Officers were grateful to have a little something extra to sustain them throughout the chilly day,” says Mew.

“Along with distributing food for officers, we were swarmed with homeless people who were hungry as well,” remembers MacDonald. “We were happy to help them too.”

Thankfully, the active threat that sent the Fitchburg canteen to the streets was a false alarm. At the end of the day, the team returned home and took the leftover food to the Fitchburg Fire Department.


Doing important work

EDS has helped the community at other political events. Last November, during the week leading up to and including Election Day, EDS distributed more than 1,200 meals at the Boston Convention Center to state troopers, police, and other first responders.

“We do everything we can to help serve them,” says MacDonald. “It makes me feel great knowing what we did in Boston.”

Mew says she was a little disappointed to have missed seeing the swearing–in ceremony at home on TV. But doing important work on such a historic day was another way The Salvation Army responds to needs in the community.

“We had excellent teams on the ground, roving through the streets of our own state capitol, doing something bigger and more patriotic than just watching on TV,” says Mew. “I felt like I was an active participant and supporting democracy, not just being a spectator.”

by Hugo Bravo