5 January 2010
As heavy snows continue to fall, emergency response teams are braving hazardous conditions and working round the clock to help snowbound communities throughout Scotland.
Scores of volunteers and staff have mounted a huge response across the country – from the Highlands through the central belt and down to the Borders – as Scots struggle to cope with the worst winter weather for years.
Emergency response teams in the North of Scotland, using specially equipped 4x4 vehicles, have been battling through snow more than two feet deep to reach people in need of help.
Digging through snow
Ian Rideout, operations director, said: “The conditions are unprecedented, there’s been no let up in the weather and some back roads are all but impassable. On one occasion we had to drive across a field to reach a patient whose home was so cut off, we’d considered sledging him out.”
He added: “We also had to dig through four feet of snow to release one of our carers and their client after they were trapped by an avalanche that fell from the roof.”
One Red Cross ambulance team, which was ferrying a patient to hospital in Aberdeen, came across a stranded motorist and his 87-year-old mother near Nairn whose car had skidded off the road in heavy snow. The crew towed the car to a nearby garage, then took the elderly woman and her son home before continuing their journey to Aberdeen.
By yesterday afternoon, 25 emergency response volunteers and five members of staff in the North of Scotland – equipped with nine 4x4 vehicles – had answered 34 calls for help.
Throughout Glasgow and the West of Scotland, the Red Cross’ medical equipment service has been inundated with wheelchair requests from people who have fallen and broken their hips, legs and ankles on the snow and ice. In recent days, more than four times as many wheelchairs as normal have been given out.
Elsewhere in Glasgow, emergency response vehicles answered several distress calls and ferried non-urgent patients to hospitals and clinics for treatment. In Edinburgh and the Lothians, crews helped transport patients between their homes and hospitals – and in one case braved heavy snowfalls to take a patient home to Perthshire.
Across the country
As snow levels deepen, 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.
Read how to prepare for severe winter weather
Read a blog about our work in winter emergencies