Two Red Cross volunteers battled through horrific weather conditions to reach people needing urgent hospital treatment early today (Mon 6 Dec).
The crew, in a specially equipped 4×4, left their base in Caithness to pick up a kidney dialysis patient from a remote village and another patient needing an urgent scan to take them to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, 120 miles away.,
And after a gruelling drive of almost five hours, the volunteers made the return journey through deep,drifting snow on treacherously icy roads to get back to their post at Thurso, where they are supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service.
The heroic mercy dash is just one of scores of emergency response calls answered by Red Cross volunteers in Scotland over the past few days.
The organisation’s main emergency response centre in Northern Scotland has been active round the clock since the extreme winter weather began more than a week ago. Their fleet of 11 specially equipped Land Rovers and other 4x4s have been in constant use, ferrying key medical staff to and from hospitals, delivering medicines to people trapped in their homes and helping the WRVS deliver meals.
Yesterday, as the winter snows reached the central belt and the west of Scotland, several specialist Red Cross vehicles and volunteers were dispatched from the north to lend a hand as traffic chaos hit the motorways and other major routes in the area.
Ian Rideout, Red Cross operations director for Northern Scotland, said: “Our volunteers who made the 240 mile round trip endured horrendous conditions to get two people from remote parts of Caithness to hospital in Inverness for treatment. And we have dozens more volunteers who have been working round the clock in the most challenging circumstances to get help to people who need it.
“We have a fleet of 41 specialist vehicles in the North of Scotland which we have made good use of and have been able to send some of them to support Red Cross teams in other parts of the country where the weather has been particularly bad.”
In Glasgow and Lanarkshire, as heavy snow brought traffic to a standstill on most of the major routes in the area, Red Cross volunteers and vehicles were deployed to support the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Peter McCarthy, Red Cross operations director for west central and south west Scotland, said: “We have put crews and vehicles at the disposal of the ambulance service to help wherever we can.
“Our volunteers are highly trained and will carry out whatever tasks the ambulance service requires them to do.”
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.