30 November 2010
As snow blizzards sweep across much of the UK, Red Cross emergency response teams are braving the hazardous conditions and working flat out to help those caught up in the bad weather.
Volunteers and staff across the UK have mounted a sustained response across the country – from the Highlands down to Lincolnshire – to help people struggling with the unprecedented November weather.
Emergency response volunteers in the North of Scotland, using seven specially equipped 4x4 vehicles, have been working round the clock for almost a week. Battling against snow that is more than two feet deep in places, 20 volunteers have collectively travelled hundreds of miles to help the most vulnerable.
They spent a day delivering meals on wheels to elderly residents cut off in the village of Keith, and transported renal patients to and from Aberdeen hospital for vital dialysis treatment. They also took home two terminally ill patients so they could spend their final days in comfort with their families.
And when a midwife ran out of pain-killing medication during a home birth on Thursday night, another volunteer braved the elements to provide the necessary relief. The grateful young mother later had a healthy baby.
Ian Rideout, operations director, said: “This kind of severe weather is pretty much unprecedented for November so it caught a lot of people by surprise. The temperatures are forecast to fall even further over the next week, so there will be plenty more vulnerable people needing our help.”
In the North East, 25 volunteers have been out at all hours in three 4x4 vehicles since the snows first hit last Wednesday. Notching up 150 volunteer hours in a single week, they have dealt with all kinds of snow-related incidents, including: broken legs, nasty injuries from falls and road traffic accidents.
The emergency response teams have also helped by using their specially equipped vehicles to ferry nurses into local hospitals, enabling tem to continue with their patient-care duties.
Paul Liversidge from North East Ambulance Service said: “The Red Cross’ help has been invaluable at this testing time. Together we have been able to maintain a service, helping the sick, injured and vulnerable. The volunteers do an incredible job. Time and again they have shown their worth and their response over the last few days is a credit to the Red Cross name.”
In Lincolnshire, volunteers are helping run a support line set up by the local authority to deal with requests for help from vulnerable people. Twelve volunteers, equipped with 4x4 vehicles, are driving through the snow to offer support to those facing difficulties due to the severe weather.
As the bad weather continues to move across the UK, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are poised and ready to join the response as required.
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