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First-time volunteer Richard gets baptism of fire

8 April 2011

Volunteers comfort a family inside their home after a fire© InfoOn his very first call-out as a fire and emergency support service volunteer, Richard Stacey found himself helping a vulnerable old lady, a small baby – and even a dog and two guinea pigs.

Richard (39) and fellow volunteer Rhianna were called out in the early hours of 5 April following a fire at a block of flats in Letchworth.

Richard recalled: “We arrived at the temporary rest centre and found about 30 residents looking pretty shell-shocked and subdued. They had been turfed out of bed at one in the morning so understandably were very tired.”

‘Tired and disoriented

Following their training, the volunteers immediately checked that everyone was okay and handed out blankets as most people were still in their nightclothes.

Richard said: “We soon came across an elderly lady who was feeling very confused, tired and disoriented. Luckily, our FESS vehicle has a comfortable sleeping area, so we took her there and she slept peacefully for three or four hours.”

The Red Cross’ FESS vehicles can be invaluable during emergencies. Equipped with a shower and sleeping area, each one is packed with relief items such as clothes, blankets, food and drink, hygiene packs, baby care materials – even pet food.

Enjoyable experience

Richard added: “Rhianna stayed with the lady while she slept, and I went back to check on the evacuees. One lady had a small baby so I offered her some assistance, and also helped look after a dog and two guinea pigs.”

Looking back, he said: “I really enjoyed my first call-out as a FESS volunteer. Our role is basically to support the victims while the emergency services tackle the crisis, and it felt great to be a part of the whole operation. And next time I’ll be even better prepared to help!”

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