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Volunteers get going as snow brings UK to standstill

2 December 2010

Three volunteers and Land Rover in snow© InfoAs many parts of the UK grind to a snow-induced standstill, Red Cross volunteers are still braving the elements around the clock to ensure the most vulnerable people are safe and well.

Emergency response teams have been working non-stop since the heavy snows first hit last week.

In Nottinghamshire and Cheshire, volunteers have been kept busy taking discharged patients home from local hospitals. And in Derbyshire, volunteers – equipped with 4x4 vehicles – yesterday worked throughout the night as conditions worsened.

One volunteer ambulance crew managed to reach a critically ill patient and provide life-saving treatment, before taking them to hospital. Another crew made their way through thick snow to help a patient with breathing difficulties until a paramedic could arrive. They then transported both patient and paramedic on to hospital.

Round the clock support

Amidst the wide-ranging response, individual stories stand out. George McAdams, a care in the home volunteer from Ollerton, spent all Wednesday (1 December) delivering essential medical equipment to help older and vulnerable people cope with the severe weather. By the end of the day, despite the horrendous conditions, George had clocked up more than 100 miles.

And in Matlock, when emergency responders found that even their 4x4 vehicle was buried in snow, they simply set out on foot to respond to calls in the local area. 

Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning and response, said: “For many people last night, the outcome might have been very bad without the Red Cross’ support. Our specially-equipped 4x4 vehicles – coupled with the commitment and experience of our volunteers – are making a really positive difference to people in cut-off areas.”

Co-ordinated response

In Scotland, volunteers – working with Midlothian Council’s social work department – are acting as ‘snowfriends’, walking to the homes of vulnerable people to deliver medicines, check everything’s okay and offer extra help. 

The sustained response also continues in Northern Scotland, where volunteers are working in rotational shifts to make sure every call-out is answered quickly. Besides the core teams, scores of volunteers are ready to join the response effort with just 20 minutes notice.

The Red Cross’ response across the country was summed up by an East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman. He said: "The Red Cross’ support has been a godsend in these conditions. We have appreciated their co-ordinated response and look forward to working closely with them over the next few days. Please pass on my sincere thanks to all the volunteers and staff for their fantastic support."

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