12 March 2013
Volunteers turned out in snowy conditions last night to help 200 drivers stranded in their cars for the night.
Heavy snow during rush hour left scores of people stuck in their cars for up to 11 hours on the A23 near Handcross.
A team of five fire and emergency support service (FESS) volunteers was called out by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in the early hours.
Besides two Land Rover 4x4 emergency vehicles, they also had bespoke FESS vehicle – equipped with an on-board shower and toilet, food, drink, blankets and other emergency supplies.
Volunteer Paul Truluck said: “We found a long queue of cars, so stationed ourselves at either end of the stopped traffic and headed out to check on the motorists. It was freezing cold, especially when you faced into the wind, but people seemed to be coping and were thankful to us for keeping them updated.
“We came across two young babies, both of whom seemed content in their cars, and one woman who was in pain and needed our help to get to hospital. Many people were glad of the warm blankets we provided.”
Paul added: “We set the lights on our vehicles to flash, so anyone who needed help could find us easily. It was great having the FESS vehicle there as well – I don’t think the on-board tea urn and toilet have even been so well-used!”
Good night’s work
One young couple – whose car battery had gone completely flat – were freezing cold, so the team took them into the FESS vehicle to keep them warm and fed. They also charged the battery so their car could start going again.
Eventually, the FESS team started using the Land Rovers to ferry people to a nearby service station, and by about 6.30am the roads had cleared enough for the traffic to start moving.
Paul said: “It was a long, cold night’s work but I think we made a big difference to those stranded motorists. We’re always on standby to respond to these situations and it’s great to be able to help people in such difficult circumstances.”
How to prepare for severe winter weather