When a lightning strike caused devastating damage to a young family’s home, emergency volunteer Juliana Ali raced straight there to help – despite it being her very first call-out.
Swindon resident Holly Gunning was sitting in the living room with her partner and two young children when the terrifying incident occurred. She recalled: “There was a huge bang and yellow smoke came out of the sockets by the sofa.” Both her traumatised daughters – Chloe (aged eight months) and Ella (aged three) – suffered eardrum damage.
The strike was so severe that it blew holes through the children’s bedroom walls and started a fire, causing extensive damage. Holly added: “There was concrete all over the baby’s bed. Fortunately, we were all downstairs or the kids could have been badly hurt.”
The family had to flee to the street in the midst of a thundery rain-storm. Thankfully Juliana and Debs Browning – both volunteers for fire and emergency support (FES) – were quickly on hand to provide some vital emotional support and practical advice.
Juliana recalled: “I didn’t feel nervous about it being my first response. I’ve had such great training that I felt prepared, and I was with a very experienced crew so that was encouraging. The fire service was fantastic as well – I really felt I was part of the team and they were very supportive. It was good to put my training into practice and help the residents.”
Three-year-old Ella, who had chicken pox, was only wearing a dressing gown so they gave her some clothes. Afterwards, a grateful Holly said: “The FES volunteers were really helpful – very kind and considerate.
“They checked in on me and I always knew where to find them. too. Everything happened so quickly – it was really scary – so it was really good to have those friendly faces around.”
Learn more about the fire and emergency support (FES)