Visit to Team Base / HQ by British Red Cross

This evening the team played host to a visit and presentation by Richard Hankins, Head of Services at Public Events, British Red Cross.

Richard is no stranger to the team, having been a Bolton MRT call out list member from 1990 to 1999, when he left the team due to a work move away from the area.
Richard still keeps in regular touch with the team from his Chester home, and alongside his BRC ’hat’ he still maintains an involvement with the emergency services in his voluntary role as a Sergeant with the Special Constabulary attached to Cheshire Police.

Richard gave an excellent powerpoint presentation on the work of the International Red Cross and the British Red Cross, which was both informative and very interesting to all the Bolton MRT members present.
He covered the history of the Red Cross, the Red Cross world wide, the principles of the Red Cross Society, its role in emergencies, the activities of the Red Cross in Britain, its emergency response capability in the UK, its First Aid training and provision at public events, its work with refugees and vulnerable migrants and its health and social care programme.
Virtually all of this was new to the assembled team members, and raised many questions all of which were expertly fielded by Richard.

Richard also explained his particular job role within the British Red Cross including his responsibilities in formulating emergency response driving policies within the BRC.

He then introduced a large number of his colleagues from the local BRC community who had also kindly given up their evening to explain the work of the British Red Cross to the team.

Firstly Paul Grundy from Bolton and his colleague Kelly Anne Wilson from Swinton, both BRC Emergency ambulance crew members, had brought along an 07 plated Renault British Red Cross frontline Emergency Ambulance.
This was duly (and very enviously) inspected by Bolton MRT members, ’ eyeing up ’ all the kit carried on board, and the acres of space available compared to the insides of our Mountain Rescue Landrover Ambulance vehicles.

Secondly Richard introduced us to the BRC team that operates the British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Services vehicle, and its co ordinating officer Shaun Kershaw, before all the Bolton team members then inspected the actual vehicle itself.
Originally termed the Fire Victim Support vehicle (or more popularly called at the time the ’ Trauma Dorma ’ ) and first introduced to the Greater Manchester area in 1995, the original (and still currently the primary role) role of this BRC vehicle is to provide immediate care and comfort to those who have suffered a serious house fire and basically have ’no where to go.’
Working in conjunction with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (and duplicated throughout the UK) this very valuable and important yet almost publicly unknown vital service is provided on a totally voluntary basis by the members of the British Red Cross, as is the vehicle itself, which is essentially a very large mobilehome vehicle.
Besides providing immediate shelter to the victims of house fires, it also carries stocks of clothes for the victims of some fires who have lost all their possessions in the trauma of a serious house fire.
In essence it was explained to us that this vital vehicle provides for the emotional and practical needs of people in emergencies.

Much discussion took place on how this vehicle could possibly be utilised within our search and rescue environment, ie in support of us when we are engaged on certain rescue operations or search operations, when we have relatives of the injured or missing present, yet due to the location we are controlling the incident from, (that is quite frequently in rural or countryside areas) cannot provide appropriate shelter facilities for them. (or in the worst case do not have immediately on hand quiet and appropriate facilities to break harrowing news to relatives of the missing)

Richard was then on hand again to close the evenings excellent presentation(s) and field any final questions.

To our many readers here is a question posed to the team on the night (to which none of us could answer)
Richard challenged us to name all three of the symbols in use by the International Red Cross.
The ’Red Cross’ itself was of course very easy, the ’Red Crescent’ was known to most, but what of the third symbol ? (wait till the end of this article for the answer)

So ended an excellent evening which gave us a great insight into the work of a colleague organisation, it also served to create bonds between our respective organisations which help interoperability on the occasions when we may have to work together.

The team offers its very special thanks to Richard Hankins, British Red Cross Head of Services at Public Events, who journeyed to see us from his Chester home (and caught up on old times in the pub afterwards with team members from his time in the team)
We also offer our thanks to all those other British Red Cross colleagues who visited us this evening.

To end the evening the Britsh Red Cross members present were given a quick tour of our Ladybridge Hall base / HQ, including our Landrover Mountain Rescue Ambulance vehicles, including of course the Mountain Rescue ’Hummer’ currently on loan with us.

And that answer to the third International Red Cross symbol…….its the ’Red Crystal.’