Heavy Rescue Partnership launches new service bringing relief to flood-hit communities
A new volunteer-led service providing vital relief to flood-hit communities launches in Staffordshire on Friday (November 26).
The Heavy Rescue Partnership (HRP) charity brings together the British Red Cross, specialist vehicle recovery company Auto Rescue Logistics (ARL) and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to deliver vital supplies and support to people stranded by flooding.
Red Cross volunteers, trained in practical and emotional support, will crew modified vehicles driven by HRP drivers, which are capable of operating in up to two metres of flood water. By delivering relief items such as food, water, clothing and blankets, the service is designed to provide additional support to the statutory services in the event of major flooding anywhere in the UK.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has provided the HRP drivers with all terrain/off road driver training, enabling them to cope with the challenges of operating at the margins of flood-hit areas, where conventional roads are impassable to normal vehicles.
The new resource meets various recommendations of the Pitt Review, published by Sir Michael Pitt after the widespread flooding of 2007. It will be on a national register and can be called out by the emergency services, civil contingencies units or local councils anywhere in the country.
Steve Palmer, head of emergency response for the Red Cross in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands said: “The Red Cross helps people in crisis whoever and wherever they are. We help vulnerable people in the UK and abroad prepare for, withstand and recover from emergencies in their communities and so I’m delighted to be able to launch this service, which will ensure people affected by flooding get the help they need throughout flood-affected areas.”
Rob Flello MP, Chair of the trustees of the Heavy Rescue Partnership and also Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport, commented: “We very much welcome this partnership and look forward to working with the British Red Cross and the emergency services. The initiative will have fantastic consequences for people affected by flooding or other natural disaster.”
Bob Preston, head of emergency response for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service added: “When we were asked to provide the training required to drive these specialist all terrain vehicles we were more than happy to get involved. From experience we know that numerous communities become isolated during flooding and so we welcome this new service.”
Supplies on board the trucks will be provided by Tesco under an existing partnership with the Red Cross to offer support in emergency response situations like fires, floods or evacuations.
Although the new service is not a rescue service it may be able to support evacuations as the vehicles, converted ex-military Bedford trucks, are capable of carrying up to four tonnes of goods in one load.
The Heavy Rescue Partnership is a registered charity and is actively seeking funding to support maintenance of trucks, equipment and continuing training. Initial funding for Red Cross training and equipment has been provided from the Red Cross West Midlands Emergency Response Appeal and the Red Cross last week (November 18) received £25,000 from DEFRA to support maintenance of the trucks and training and equipment for volunteers.
For more information about the service or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Steve Palmer on 0121 766 5444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.