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Red Cross volunteers respond to flat fire in Essex

13 November 2009

A fire and emergency support service volunteer comforts a woman during a fireAlex Maguire / British Red CrossBritish Red Cross volunteers are helping over 50 people evacuated from their homes after a fire broke out in a flat in Basildon, Essex at 3am this morning.

The local Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) was called to the scene in Bockingham Green by the local fire service, where it began helping evacuated residents.

The team then set up a temporary rest centre for over 50 evacuees at the request of Essex County Council. A further three people were taken to hospital.

A bigger venue, at the Eversley centre, was secured later in the morning, which eight Red Cross volunteers and three staff members are now running.

Health problems

The team arranged and collected emergency prescriptions, and an ambulance was called for a lady suffering from asthma. They are continuing to provide hygiene kits, meals and emotional support, and the FESS vehicle is being used as an additional temporary rest centre.

Steve Race, service manager, said: “Volunteers have been on the scene for nearly seven hours, and their efforts are nothing short of impressive. The FESS vehicle had up to 15 people in it at one point!”

Lynda Dawson, a FESS volunteer at the scene, said: "I only completed my rest centre training a few weeks ago and it really helped me to understand what was expected of me. I befriended a man who hadn't left his flat in nearly two years due to ill health. I made sure he took his medication and gave him one of our hot food packs. I really feel we made a difference today."

Other FESS volunteers are on standby to take over from the initial volunteers when needed.