Scottish Borders Council’s Resilient Communities initiative has proven its worth during 2016.
The initiative was developed to enable volunteers in towns and villages to be organised and able to respond to emergency situations such as severe weather, fire, power failure and other major incidents.
Volunteers in each Resilient Community group are given basic manual equipment and protective clothing by the Council, while a local emergency plan is developed and first aid training is provided.
A total of 40 Resilient Community groups are now active across the Borders, with a number of those being in action over the last 12 months.
Among them is Eyemouth Response Team, who set up first aid training which its youngest member Beth Cromarty used to help her aunt Jemma Landels after she began choking on a piece of cake in June this year.
The 15-year-old Eyemouth High School pupil has now been shortlisted for Young Hero of the Year at the Scottish First Aid Awards in Glasgow in November.
Jemma said: “Being part of Resilient Communities initiative has been hugely beneficial to Eyemouth. It means the community can start looking after itself before the emergency services and the Council arrive at the scene. It has provided a number of people with new skills and we have received equipment and training to allow us to perform our new role in the community.”
Eyemouth Response Team also played a prominent role in minimising the impact of flooding in the coastal town in July.
The team notified residents in flood-prone areas, assisted with sandbagging and helped erect floodgates.
Jim Fraser, Emergency Planning Officer at the Council, said: “The response in Eyemouth to the potential for flooding, and after the extremely heavy rainfall, has once again highlighted the value of having locally trained and equipped volunteers in these situations that can support the emergency services.
“There is no doubt that their efforts, and those of local residents and business owners, helped to minimise the impact of this event.”
In addition, a number of Resilient Communities teams responded to storms Desmond and Frank which caused significant damage across the Borders.
In particular, the volunteer teams covering Hawick, Innerleithen and Cardrona, Peebles and Walkerburn were recognised for their work in difficult circumstances. For example, Peebles Resilient Community group co-ordinated a clean-up of the town after Storm Frank, which saw 95 people turn out to help on 2 January.
Donald Moffat, the Council’s Executive Member for Community Safety, said: “Any community which joins the Resilient Communities initiative will get assistance from the Council to draw up plans so the local resilience group can respond in an organised manner in an emergency. They will also be given basic manual equipment, appropriate insurance cover and first aid training.