Trust seeks local 4x4 drivers to join its army of snow heroes

torbay hosp

Following last year’s ‘Beast from the East’, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is looking for more volunteers to join their 4×4 Volunteer Driver Response Team which plays an essential role in supporting patients and staff during adverse/extreme weather conditions.

The Trust already has around 50 4×4 volunteer car drivers on its books across Torbay and South Devon. However, the Trust is looking to recruit more people to join its ranks. Any local 4×4 drivers who are thinking of volunteering, or those who helped support last year, are urged to come forward by calling 01803 654600.

In the event of extreme winter weather, the volunteers play a vital role in helping to keep local NHS services running across the community. The volunteers will help by taking staff to and from work as well as out and about to patients’ homes. They may even be asked to take patients (with no mobility problems) to and from hospital and treatment centres.

Jonathan Taylor-Edmondson, Head of Safety, Security and emergency Planning for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “When the snow hit in 2018 we couldn’t have run our services in the way that we did without the incredible support of all those people who came forward with 4×4 vehicles – we even had people with tractors helping! The volunteers really stepped up to the plate by helping us carry equipment and taking staff and patients to and from our sites during the difficult weather conditions.

“As part of our business continuity planning, we are asking people who are confident and experienced 4×4 drivers to come forward and register with us. It means that if we get severe weather conditions again this winter we can call upon these people to help keep vital NHS services going.

“We would only call upon the 4×4 volunteers to help during the winter period when we have snow or just before in anticipation of incoming bad weather to ask for their availability. Our services cover a large patch, with many more rural and isolated locations as well as the towns, so we really do need as many people as possible to help us should the snow hit again.”

David Thomas is already signed up as part of the 4×4 Volunteer Driver Response Team. David said: “Further to the call for 4×4 volunteers last year to help out during the terrible winter snowy weather, I put myself forward and was delighted to be able to provide some assistance.

“I am pleased that many of those that volunteered last year, as well as new recruits, are now being asked to formally come together to be on a register should bad weather come along again.

“We are all hopeful that the services of 4×4 volunteers are not required, but it should be reassuring to the Torbay and South Devon community to know that this resource is co-ordinated and is available should the need arise.

“I personally owe my life to the fantastic and dedicated team at Torbay Hospital, hence it is clear why I am prepared to try to put a little back in to help someone else.”

Whilst the volunteers would be giving up their time, the Trust would pay their mileage and would provide refreshments during in any incident.

Drivers will need to meet certain requirements in order to join the 4×4 Volunteer Driver Response Team. If you would like to ask more about this role please contact Christopher McCabe (Support Officer for Safety, Security and Emergency Planning Team) on 01803 654600.

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!