Trucking Charity Donates to Urban Disaster Response Team

Trucking Cares Foundation Contributes $25,000 to Virginia Task Force 1
Trucking Cares Foundation presents check
Trucking Cares Foundation executives (from left) John Lynch, Chris Spear and Phil Byrd present a donation to Virginia Task Force 1 to assists in its relief efforts. (American Trucking Associations)

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The Trucking Cares Foundation donated $25,000 to Virginia Task Force 1, a leading disaster response team, American Trucking Associations’ charitable arm said June 2.

Federation President Chris Spear, who is vice chairman of the foundation, said during a visit to the task force’s headquarters in Chantilly, Va., this donation was the first to a search-and-rescue entity since TCF’s inception in 2018.

TCF President John Lynch added that the foundation wanted to be proactive rather than reactive with its funds. Not only that, the donation is going to an organization that knows what to do in a crisis, he said.

Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1) is a team of emergency managers and planners, physicians and paramedics, and includes specialists in the fields of structural engineering, heavy rigging, collapse rescue, emergency medicine, logistics, hazardous materials, communications, canine and technical search.

There are just two accredited international search-and-rescue teams in the U.S. The other is in Los Angeles. That accreditation is obtained through a competitive process.

The disaster response team’s longest deployment was 30 days in Nepal in 2015 after an earthquake. Since then it has been deployed overseas three times — for two earthquakes (Haiti in August 2021, Turkey in February 2023) and to the Bahamas in response to Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. VA-TF1 also has deployed domestically for seven hurricanes since 2015, including Dorian.

VA-TF1 has 210 personnel. “We’ve done everything from dig people out from buildings to moving toilet paper,” Battalion Chief Jeff Lewis, urban search-and-rescue program manager, said during the event. Everyone who enters the public safety field wants to help people on the ground from the moment they arrive on the scene until the last few seconds of their deployment, he added.

Globally, there are at least 56 urban search-and-rescue teams capable of deploying teams, but only three countries aside from the U.S. have two teams with a similar level of capabilities to those offered by VA-TF1: China, Russia and Turkey, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Phil Byrd (left) and Chris Spear of TCF

 Truck Cares Foundation Chairman Phil Byrd (left) with ATA President and TCF Vice Chairman Chris Spear. (Keiron Greenhalgh/Transport Topics)

VA-TF1 uses three tractor-trailers for storage as well as its warehouse in Chantilly. Lt. Bill Lamont, VA Task Force 1 warehouse manager, said that everything at the facility is ready to go. There is no overstock, he added, noting that the task force still was addressing restocking needs after its Turkish deployment in February. VA-TF1 has several deployment models and was on the ground within 24 hours when Haiti required help in 2021.

TCF Chairman Phil Byrd,  CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express, said during the visit that after February’s earthquake in Turkey, TCF saw a need to respond. The task force and the donation is about “good people doing good things, which is what trucking is all about,” said Byrd. “When disaster strikes, trucking is there to deliver.”

“The TCF contribution is intended to help fund the acquisition of special equipment that falls outside normal budget appropriations,” Byrd said in a TCF statement. “The bottom line is, if there is any industry that appreciates the need for special equipment, it is the trucking industry.”


Disaster and tragedy have a way of unveiling the heroes among us. Every year, Transport Topics' Trucking's Frontline Heroes recognizes truck drivers and trucking professionals who found the strength to reach out and support those stricken by tragedy. How do we honor them? Find out here.

TCF focuses on several core areas, including humanitarian and disaster relief; eradicating human trafficking; leadership development; strengthening the industry’s relationships with law enforcement, the military and veterans’ organizations; safety and research opportunities.

On May 12, the foundation said flatbed specialist Daseke became the 15th member of the TCF Founders Club.

“The trucking industry does so much for our country and our economy, and the Trucking Cares Foundation embodies this spirit of service,” Daseke CEO Jonathan Shepko said.

Bulldog Hiway Express is a unit of Daseke Inc., which ranks No. 31 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

The Ruan Foundation on May 2 became the 14th member of the Founders Club, which is a class of donors consisting of individuals and corporations that have committed to a $100,000 contribution over a 10-year period. Ruan ranks No. 38 on the for-hire TT100.

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