4 August 2009
Alex MaguireThe British Red Cross provided help and support to guests and staff evacuated from the Northern Hotel in Brechin, after a fire broke out early on Monday 3 August.
The Red Cross received a call for support from the fire brigade in the early hours of Monday morning and the charity’s specialist fire and emergency support service (FESS) was quickly on the scene.
Using a specially adapted vehicle, two Red Cross volunteers provided shelter, emotional support and practical help to eight guests and three staff in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
Steven McGrath, FESS team leader for the region, was one of the volunteers who arrived the scene. Steven said: "When we got to the hotel there were six fire appliances and around 40 firefighters so it was obviously quite a serious incident.
"The hotel manager and staff were desperately trying to arrange alternative accomodation for the guests and there was a lot of confusion, but we were able to take the pressure off them when we arrived.
"We gave the staff and guests shelter and hot drinks and even cameras that they could use for insurance purposes. They were all really glad to see us."
Help after emergencies
In partnership with Tayside Fire and Rescue, FESS provides people across Tayside with help and support in the immediate aftermath of being evacuated from their homes due to emergencies such as fires or floods.
The service can also be called upon to attend road traffic collisions and to support the fire service at major incidents.
Donald Park, Red Cross service manager, said: "As always volunteers did a tremendous job looking after members of the public evacuated from the hotel, allowing fire fighters to focus on tackling the blaze."
Becoming a volunteer
The Red Cross is currently recruiting new fire and emergency support service volunteers and would like to hear from people in Tayside interested in getting involved with this vital service.
Susan Greenhalgh, volunteering advisor, said: "This is a hugely exciting and rewarding service to volunteer with, where you get to see first hand the real difference you can make for someone during what could be the most traumatic night of their life."
The Red Cross provides full training and support but the most important thing is a compassionate nature and the ability to remain calm in a crisis.
Volunteers would be asked to cover a few shifts per month, which would be through the night or at weekends.
Find out more about the fire and emergency support service
Become a FESS volunteer
Find out what we do in Tayside