26 October 2016
This month the British Red Cross and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrate 20 years of working together to help people in crisis.
This significant milestone was recognised at a special event at Hightown Fire Station attended by staff and volunteers.
Around 45 volunteers make up the Red Cross emergency response teams in Hampshire. They are based at two different locations. Each year, they respond to around 300 emergencies ranging from house fires to flooding.
In Hampshire and across the UK, when crises occur the emergency services call upon the Red Cross. Our volunteers help provide comfort and advice to people who need it, while they focus on the task at hand.
Our volunteers are equipped with a support vehicle containing comfortable seating, refreshments, spare clothing, hygiene items and even shower facilities.
They provide comfort and support to people experiencing a crisis, helping them to take vital next steps to cope.
The Hampshire emergency response service was one of the first in the country. Today we have teams in more than 40 counties across the UK.
The first rescue
On 4 October 1996, the Red Cross team were called out their first incident – on the very day this partnership was launched.
Newly-trained Red Cross volunteer Linda Read recalled the event: “We were supposed to be having a lunch to mark the launch of the service when we were called to a fire at Totton.
“We got there and the house had been completely gutted. At first the residents weren’t there as they were still out walking their dog.
“When they came back we invited them into our vehicle to give them some comfort. Over the years we’ve built on that initial model to add in new layers of support.”
Linda is still an emergency response volunteer today and is as committed as ever to her vital work.
“I can’t think of anything worse than losing your house in a fire and that’s what motivates me to volunteer,” Linda said.
“The people we support have often lost their home, as well as precious possessions and memories that can’t be replaced. The support we provide can make a huge amount of difference at a time of crisis.”
Speaking about the 20-year partnership, Neil Odin, deputy chief fire officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to those that have voluntarily given their time to be part of the Red Cross over the past 20 years.
“The support they provide and professionalism they show in often challenging circumstances is nothing short of inspirational.
“I have always felt that to give your time voluntarily to help and support others in their time of need requires an exceptional person.
“I would like to express the pride that I personally, and rest of the service as a whole, feel about our association with these volunteers.”