7 January 2010
As people and motorists struggle to cope with the worst snowfall in 30 years, Red Cross emergency response teams have been active all across the country – including the A3 in Hampshire.
As heavy snows continue to cause major disruption, emergency response teams are working round the clock to help snowbound communities throughout the UK. And in Hampshire, volunteers battled through horrendous conditions to provide help after 1,000 drivers were stranded overnight on the normally busy A3 road.
Volunteers Barry Goodman and Sid Edwards, equipped with a 4x4 vehicle, were called out on Wednesday evening. Barry recalled: “There was a lot of traffic sliding all over the place and a few trees down on the minor roads, but not enough to stop us getting through. Along the way, we came across a couple of cars stuck in the road, so we helped the drivers push them to the side of the road.”
He added: “As we were driving along, I noticed a policewoman standing on the central reservation with two elderly people trying to wrap them in blankets, so I pulled over and stopped.
“I saw then that the Army had arrived on the scene and was helping motorists into the back of a large truck. However, the elderly couple couldn’t make it up into the lorry, so we took them into our vehicle.
“We helped the police and the Army to load more people up into the vehicles and then led the way to the nearby Petersfield rest centre, driving the wrong way down the A3 on the central reservation with a police escort.”
Food and help
But the busy night wasn’t over yet. Barry said: “Once we had settled those people into the rest centre, the police asked if we could go back and help them. So we drove slowly up the road for two miles, knocking on every single car window to ensure everyone was okay and had all they needed. In all, there were about 600 cars in the queue.
“We then got a call from the rest centre asking if we could get some food for the crowd now gathered there. So we went over to Tesco – which opened 45 minutes early for us – stocked up with supplies and returned to the rest centre.”
The volunteers finally left late the next morning and arrived home at 1pm that afternoon – 15 hours after they had set out. Looking back, Barry recalled: “The whole thing was actually a really good experience for me as a Red Cross volunteer – that’s what it’s all about.”
Across the country
As people battle with the treacherous sub-zero conditions, British Red Cross emergency teams have been responding across the UK – including Wales, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall.
Throughout the West Midlands, volunteers equipped with emergency 4x4 vehicles supported the ambulance service by handling patient transfers and collecting essential NHS staff. In Nottinghamshire, volunteers used their Land Rover 4x4 vehicles to help carers reach vulnerable people through heavy snow.
In Peterborough, the Red Cross has been handing out emergency foil blankets to destitute refugees and homeless people who have been put at risk by the freezing weather conditions.
Read about our response in Northern Scotland
First aid tips for the severe weather
Diary of an emergency responder
Read our young volunteer's snow-response blog