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International Rescue Corps: Support to NHS in Central Scotland

What was the issue that made you start the response?

December 2010 - Significant snowfall disrupted palliative care nurses carrying out home visits throughout central Scotland. Request made to International Rescue Corps (IRC) to provide 4 x 4 vehicles along with volunteer support to help access hard to reach areas.

Who was involved and what did they do?

Volunteers from IRC worked shifts day and night using three 4x4 vehicles to ensure nurses were able to access patients' homes across central Scotland and also delivered blood samples to laboratories to ensure correct medication was prescribed and distributed to patients as soon as possible.

The volunteers covered shifts from six to 19 hours, and covered over 1,000 miles over eight days, working in temperatures as low as minus 20.

What worked well about the response?

Excellent communication channels were created between IRC and NHS allowing for emergency requests to be responded to.

What did you learn during the response?

As IRC becomes more and more involved in such incidents in the UK, the Corps is required to procure and purchase more specialised equipment such as telescopic snow shovels, snow and mud mats for vehicles, supplies of road salt fitted into each vehicle, and hot water screen wash for vehicles.

What made it work?

The excellent working relationship that grew between NHS staff and IRC volunteers. The determination of both NHS staff and IRC volunteers to push their normal limits often working in temperatures of minus 20.