Helping People in Crisis

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. It is the UK’s leading emergency response charity, and helps more than a million people every year. David Hallows, North Wales Service Manager and Airwave custodian for the British Red Cross, describes two events where the Airwave Service proved its worth.

“We use the Airwave sets when we are coordinating emergency response,” said David. “As an organisation we are renowned for our planning, and the Airwave Service helps us to do our jobs more effectively.”

“The floods during the winter of 2012 tested our communications. We were operating three rest centres, they were 45 miles apart and 50 miles from the nearest base station – our area covers from Holyhead to Wrexham and Abergele to Dolgellau.

“We had one Airwave set in constant communication with the Police so we could direct our rescue vehicles – the power was down so the Airwave Network was the only means of mobile communication. We had another Airwave set linked back to our Abergele centre so we could send out supplies and volunteers where they were needed most.

“Later on we worked with local government organising humanitarian aid in a number of communities. We issued Airwave radios to the operations team so they could report back to base in terms of what was needed and where. t was a week-long emergency response, and we impressed a number of colleagues with how we were able to communicate with the Airwave radios.

Red Cross volunteer Shaun Jones-Booth, who helped staff get to and from hospital in Wrexham. Picture courtesy of UNP.

David Hallows, North Wales Service Manager, British Red Cross said:

As an organisation we are renowned for our planning, and the Airwave Service helps us to do our jobs more effectively. 

“A few months later, the deep snow in March crippled the road infrastructure in North Wales, so we offered our services to the local health authority to help transport patients to hospital, using our 4x4 vehicles.

“The need was so great that we brought in mutual aid from Warwick and Bristol. Via the Airwave Network we were able to deploy the support vehicles directly where they were required, and direct them down the clearest routes, as they had no local knowledge.

“Using the Airwave radios we were able to book people in and out, know where our staff and the patients were at any time, take progress reports and updates, and importantly, know that people were safe. The vehicles were in use for up to 16 hours a day – at one point we had 15 4x4s supporting a single hospital.

“We provided support for five days, for although the main roads were cleared quickly, those people living in remote communities were stranded without our help.”