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British Red Cross volunteers help in major evacuation of sheltered accommodation.

Volunteers from the British Red Cross gave emotional and practical support to the residents of a sheltered housing complex in Thornbury, when fire swept through one of the flats forcing 27 others to evacuate.

Adam McGreevy, 26, from Bath, was one of four volunteers requested to attend the incident by Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS). They arrived at the scene on Friday (16.03.12) night to find a temporary rest centre already operating in a nearby church hall. Adam immediately set about helping the residents, while firefighters worked to clear smoke from the affected flats.

Adam, a security officer at Bath University, has been volunteering with the Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) for one year. He said: “It was quite overwhelming walking up to the church hall and seeing so many people in there. You never know what to expect when you get a call and on this occasion it was nice to be able to do something really worthwhile and reassure the residents.”

The Red Cross helps people cope after a fire or emergency, providing practical help, advice and comfort. The volunteers provided emotional support, refreshments and their specially adapted vehicle as a place of refuge for the distressed people until they were allowed back in to their flats.

When the fire service gave the all clear, Adam helped the residents, many of whom were in wheelchairs, back in to their homes and made sure they had everything they needed.

Adam said the occupants were shaken, but grateful for the support from the Red Cross. “They said they hadn’t realised the Red Cross provided this service. They were very grateful,” he said.

They also helped the man whose flat was badly damaged in the fire, making sure he had somewhere to stay for the night, and supplying him with necessary toiletries.

The volunteers remained at the scene until all residents were safely in their flats and their personal alarms, which had been cut off during the incident, were back online.

A spokesman for Avon Fire & Rescue Service said: “Domestic fires, such as the recent incident in Thornbury, are devastating and the emotional effects can be far reaching. The support provided to the public by the Red Cross at incidents we attend across the area is much valued by AF&RS, as well as those directly affected.”

The Red Cross is looking for new volunteers for the fire and emergency support service, which works in partnership with local fire services to provide practical and emotional support to those affected by fires and other emergencies.

Volunteers need to live within 30 minutes of Keynsham Fire Station, where the vehicle is located, in order to respond to emergency calls.

To find out more about the role and the training provided, please contact Dan Spencer on 07921 872375 or email dspencer@redcross.org.uk.

For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk/fess

ENDS

For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: http://www.redcross.org.uk

Notes to editors

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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