Surplus Vehicle helped deputies get mother to hospital to deliver baby during Hurricane Florence

Supplies in storage container
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 3:39pm

Duplin County deputies drove the mother to the hospital with military surplus high-water rescue vehicle obtained from LESS.

Through the federal 1033 program, the DPS Law Enforcement Support Services office provides excess federal property to law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to enhance their capabilities and reduce costs to taxpayers. That equipment goes out all year long but some of it is especially welcome during times of natural disasters—like during hurricane season.

Detective Ben Parrish of the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office learned that firsthand last September when our state was slammed hard by Hurricane Florence. The most devastating, wettest hurricane in our state’s history brought with it heavy, record-setting rainfall for days on end. It caused massive flooding in many areas. With so many areas flooded during the storm and its aftermath, first responders often had to resort to special modes of transportation to perform rescues and answer calls for service.

“The water was very, very high throughout the county,” said Detective Parrish. “[Several days into Hurricane Florence] we had gotten a call that there was a lady at the field hospital in Beulaville, North Carolina which is just south of here, and she was in labor. She was 40 weeks and one day pregnant. We got mom and dad loaded up in the MRAP and got them comfortable...made it through the water—it was just below the air intake on the hood of the MRAP.” 

Parrish and another deputy were able to get mom safely to the hospital in time to have her baby.

The military is fond of acronyms and calls the massive mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle an MRAP, but to Parrish, after the events of last year and Hurricane Florence, it’s simply a lifesaver. The MRAP combines all-terrain capabilities with substantial weight and very high ground clearance, making it ideal for many high-water rescue operations. They are worth more than half a million dollars but are available to law enforcement agencies in North Carolina from the 1033 Program for just the cost of shipping.

Asked if he would recommend the program to other agencies, Parrish quickly replied, “Most definitely, I would recommend the program.” He added, “You can’t put a price on saving somebody’s life with equipment that is free to law enforcement and able to be utilized on a daily basis. You can’t put a price on that.”

The DPS LESS office team trains law enforcement personnel in the 1033 program and approves and transfers the excess federal property to local agencies. This equipment isn’t restricted to vehicles like MRAPs, Humvees, boats and ATVs.  Examples of the diverse range of equipment available include first aid supplies, clothing, generators, tents; building materials (like plywood); office equipment (such as furniture, desks); computers, printers and much more.

“We work hard to get this equipment out in the field where it can do the most good,” said David Farmer, state point of contact for Law Enforcement Support Services. “It makes me feel great to go to work every day knowing we are helping dedicated public servants get the tools they need to do their jobs and protect and save lives.”


Hear firsthand from LESS participants:


Clyde Roper