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Volunteers respond to severe snow in Scotland

26 February 2010

Red Cross Land Rover in deep snow© InfoEmergency response volunteers in Northern Scotland worked round the clock last week to help hundreds of residents caught up in a punishing combination of severe snowfall and mass power cuts.

As heavy snow brought parts of the country to a standstill, 45 Red Cross volunteers – equipped with a fleet of Land Rover 4x4 ambulances – launched a major response operation to help deal with the crisis.

At one point last Thursday, Northern Scotland was entirely completely cut off by road, rail and air. The Red Cross volunteer teams, who collectively clocked up 185 call-out hours during that single day, were working primarily around Inverness, Aviemore, Aberdeen and Stonehaven.

Emergency transfers

Red Cross emergency teams used their fleet of Land Rover 4x4 ambulances to help transport both patients and medical staff. In the early hours of Thursday morning, volunteers transported an Inverness patient with renal failure through hazardous conditions to Raigmore hospital. They also collected medical consultants in Inverness who had been unable to reach the hospital, and dealt with four critical calls on Wednesday.

Anne Eadie, service manager, had a very busy time. Speaking last week, she said: “Just because the weather’s bad doesn’t mean people no longer need specialist medical care, so we’ve been dealing with some long-distance hospital transfers.

“Yesterday, we took one patient from Inverness to Fort William’s hospital – a round trip of 130 miles – and just now we’re en route to Wick to collect another patient. The conditions are treacherous but our vehicles can cope with it.”

‘Really difficult conditions’

The Red Cross also helped set up a rest centre in Stonehaven, following severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall and melting snow. Four volunteers were on hand to support more than 80 families cut off and left without power.

Emergency response volunteer in the snow© InfoIan Rideout, operations director, said: “We’ve been facing really difficult snow conditions this time – it’s up to 50 centimetres deep in some areas. Our volunteers are used to responding in challenging weather, but this has been exceptional.”

“This poor weather looks set to continue for a few days yet, but we’ll keep going for as long as we’re needed. We’ve had a huge response from our volunteers – and people in Northern Scotland know they can depend on the Red Cross at times like these.”

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