Page 17 - HOT NEWS March 2017
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The British Red Cross is a global voluntary network that helps people caught up in conflicts, natural disasters and emergencies all around the world.
But did you know that the charity provides a free, 24-hour service to fire services across the UK offering practical help and emotional support to people affected by fires and other emergency incidents?
Here on Merseyside, the British Red Cross has a team of 20 volunteers who form part of an ‘Emergency Response Service’ (ERS – formerly known as FESS) which is ready round-the-clock to assist MFRS in the recovery phase of an incident.
As well as being available 24 hours a day, the ERS can mobilise to any location, including hospitals, fires, floods or private dwellings, to assist with re-housing needs, help signpost people to relevant welfare services and assist in the displacement of large numbers of people.
From 2015 to 2016, the ERS team attended 59 incidents in Merseyside including a house fire in Southport where Red Cross volunteers provided the family affected with £75 worth of clothing vouchers and a family food parcel donated by The Trussell Trust.
Following a house fire in West Derby, the ERS team helped the family of a female casualty gather food and toiletries which they then took to her in hospital. They also gave emotional support to her family members.
As well as offering practical and emotional support, the Merseyside ERS has a fully-equipped Emergency Response Vehicle with an oven, cooker, shower, fridge, TV, food and blankets where people who have been involved in a serious incident can rest and recuperate.
Based at MFRS’s Liverpool City Community Fire station, the vehicle attends every incident on Merseyside where the ERS is requested.
Every aspect of this service is free to MFRS and the service-user and is funded entirely by the British Red Cross. The ERS can be requested at incidents by the Officer-in-Charge via the MFRS Control team.
Emergency Response Officer for the British Red Cross in Merseyside, Sharon Devlin, said: “Our aim is to
help vulnerable people prepare for, and
withstand, emergencies in their
communities. And, when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives.
“Our service is vital as it is the only out-of-hours service of its kind supporting vulnerable families and individuals in the
aftermath of a crisis. Our highly trained and experienced volunteers are available to respond 24 hours a day in our fully-equipped vehicle.
“We would be delighted to offer our rapid response service to
fire crews wherever
we are needed. I encourage any Station Manager or Watch Manager to contact us to find out more, so as we can assist at even more incidents in future.”
Integral to Sharon’s team are Steve Chapman and Ron Robinson, who have been volunteer members of the British Red Cross for 41 years and 40 years respectively.
Ron said: “We have a great relationship with the MFRS Control team and Firefighters and our aim is to free the operational crews up to do their job by assisting with the humanitarian side of things at incidents.
“Our role is to get people to a place of safety and we have been called out to a variety of incidents including fires, floods, gas leaks, evacuations and social welfare situations.
“The intent is to help not hinder and we operate under the direction of the authorities in charge at the scene.
For us, there is no such thing as a false alarm and we never think of acalloutasa waste of time.
“Our message is simple – if in doubt, call us out. We are always happy to help”
Watch Manager Gordon Smith requested the attendance of the British Red Cross at a flat fire in Kirkdale earlier this year and is full of praise for the Emergency Response Team.
WM Smith said: “Ron and Steve attended the incident and were consummate professionals throughout. They have attended many incidents down the years and are fully versed in fire service procedure.
“They refused to pass the cordon until instructed to do so by a police officer at the scene, even though they were keen to assist a male and female occupant who had been led to safety by BA crews.
“Ron and Steve helped arrange temporary housing for the couple, provided them with emotional
support and gave them advice on how to make an insurance claim.
“They also arranged a food parcel, toiletries and clothing vouchers. It made a huge difference to the
couple involved and they were both incredibly grateful.
“This wonderful service is
free to the fire service and the
people affected by crises.
I can’t praise it enough and would encourage all Officers in Charge to consider calling the
British Red Cross when they need to.”
If you would like to find out more about the Emergency Response Service, or arrange an appointment
for a member of the British Red Cross to deliver a talk at your
Station about the services they offer, contact Sharon Devlin at or on 07710 976 619.
Ron Robinson, WM Gordon Smith and Steve Chapman in front of the British Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle.
The Emergency Service Response Vehicle is based at Liverpool City Community Fire Station.

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