When the going gets tough...

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:39 25 May 2010

Martin Twigg

Martin Twigg

Copyright Archant Ltd

SUDDEN snow, floods and Arctic temperatures can bring our country to a standstill.

Pete Sadler

SUDDEN snow, floods and Arctic temperatures can bring our country to a standstill.

But who do the rescuers call when they need rescuing?

When the emergency services, carers, doctors and nurses need a helping hand to get to people desperately in need they call upon Wessex 4x4 Response.

The dedicated team of volunteers brave the elements, whatever the weather, to help paramedics and other emergency services get to those most in need.

Simon Fisher

Whether it is helping ambulance crews to transport patients, escorting an organ transport vehicle or aiding deliveries for the Meals on Wheels service, the team of volunteers are on call 24-7 to help in a crisis.

Members live across North Somerset and Sedgemoor and sometimes have an emergency service background.

But often they are just kind-hearted individuals with a monster set of wheels.

Now in its eighth year, Wessex 4x4 Response is part of a national organisation where drivers of four wheel vehicles give up their time and sometimes have to take annual leave to perform their duties.

Julian Sayer - pic of him by 4x4 as part of feature. Blackdown Mead - Draycott Park Estate - Cheddar.
24-1-10

The Weston Mercury spoke to some members to find out what volunteering for Wessex 4x4 Response - which covers Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset - entails.

*For more information about joining the team visit www.wessex4x4response.org.uk or call Russ Laye on 07974 735351.

Martin Twigg

The 54-year-old got involved with the organisation when he read an article about 4x4 response in a Land Rover magazine.

Martin, who lives in Yatton, says he bought his vehicle for carrying his bass guitar around when he played for a rock band, but wanted to use his car for what it was really built for.

The Rectory Way resident has now been a response volunteer for three years. One of his first calls was to help out in the Gloucestershire floods.

He said: "We were taking drinking water to people who were stuck in their homes.

"Some of them hadn't had fresh water through for a fortnight because it was all polluted.

"I spent three days up there transporting bottled water - we shifted 23 tonnes."

Martin is a train driver for First Great Western and took annual leave to help during the floods.

During last year's snow he was called to Knowle in Bristol and spent time transporting medical staff to people on dialysis machines in their homes.

He said: "There is a great satisfaction from doing the volunteering. It is very useful to a lot of people."

Pete Sadler

Pete lives and breathes helping people - not only is he a volunteer but he also works as an air crew paramedic for Great Western Ambulance Service.

The 47-year-old has been with the group for 18 months and helped out an ambulance crew in Portishead during the recent snow.

The West Wick resident said: "On another occasion I picked up emergency control room staff from their homes in Tetbury and Stroud, where no other vehicles were able to get through, and took them into work in Gloucestershire.

"I became aware of the group shortly after I bought my Land Rover Discovery and through work, so I thought I would put my vehicle at their disposal.

"For the majority of the year there is no work to do, but you need to keep your vehicle in a good road-worthy condition for when you are needed."

Simon Fisher

Worle resident Simon joined the group in early 2009 after he spoke to friends who were also members.

The 42-year-old already has a hectic lifestyle, travelling abroad with his job as a sales and product manager and taking care of his four children and foster children.

The Beckett Road resident said: "It is a juggling act balancing work, 4x4 response and family life.

"During the recent snow I was unable to go out to my clients anyway, so I took some time off work and committed my time to the group. Luckily my employer is very understanding.

"I also have an understanding wife who is proud that I help others and she is willing to do her bit in taking care of the kids so I can do the response work.

"I like to be able to help someone else and I also get a bit of enjoyment while doing it."

Simon says he would recommend joining Wessex 4x4 Response to anyone with an appropriate vehicle.

He added: "You have to really want to do it because you are out at all hours of the day and night in the freezing cold.

"For me, it gives a great sense of satisfaction from getting the nurses or paramedics I ferried about to the required destination when a normal car or ambulance couldn't."

Julian Sayer

Cheddar resident Julian got involved with the team after giving some members off-roading lessons.

The 45-year-old joined five years ago and has been out on several calls to remote snow-covered areas.

Julian, who lives in the Draycott Park estate, said: "In February last year I spent three days in Exmoor taking carers around to farms.

"These places were literally buried in snow and some of the people were very elderly.

"I am self-employed so I am a bit more flexible about going out to calls.

"Volunteers don't have to go out to every call, but you must be prepared to go out at a moment's notice.

"I would urge anyone who works in the area who has a 4x4 and an understanding boss to join.

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