Snow Patrol helping healthcare workers get into work
The NHS is not immune from the effects of severe weather, but one volunteer organisation has stepped up to plate to support health workers struggling to make it into work.
Warwickshire 4x4 volunteers, known affectionately by hospital staff as Snow Patrol, are a group of 150 people dedicated to offering free transport to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, who would otherwise find it difficult to make it in.
Last week the Herald spoke to Julie Bell, who runs the service with her husband Graeme, as snowflakes began to flutter over the region.
Julie said: “It all started three years ago when Graeme was asked to do a couple of jobs for Warwick Hospital using the 4x4. He asked how they usually got help and they told him they put out a radio broadcast asking for volunteers, Graeme thought it would be better to get something together that was a bit more organised.
“At the beginning we had about 20-25 members, but now we’ve got 150. It sounds a lot but for instance one day this week nine hospital workers needed help, we need to drop them off and pick them up at the end of the day and drivers do four hour shifts so I actually needed a total of 27 drivers that day. It’s voluntary too and these drivers have other jobs.
“At this time the NHS is under real pressure and they need every member of staff to get in. For us and for all our drivers this is all about giving something back, we can’t do the job that these doctors and nurses do, but we can help them get to their jobs.
“It’s not just getting people to and from work though, last year we did more than 600 trips in the summer including transporting PPE from the main hub in Warwick to other hospitals.
“The weekend before last was our busiest ever, we had 65 drivers out on the road at one point. They can only carry one passenger at a time at the moment because of Covid and they all sanitise their vehicles and all our drivers take lateral flow tests.
“We’ve created quite a community really, we have a Facebook page and everyone is of the same mindset, they just want to do their bit to help.
“We’re always on the lookout for volunteers, they won’t be needed every day, it really is only in times of severe weather, but they have to be comfortable driving in those sorts of conditions.”
Rachel Williams, associate director of ops for Emergency Warwick Hospital, said: “Snow Patrol have been absolutely wonderful in supporting staff in adverse weather. We ran the perfect week a couple of weeks ago where we were trying to help speed up discharge safely out of the hospital back to people’s homes. What Snow Patrol did was they offered to help run errands for us and collected equipment from all sorts of different other hospitals and places, also help take medication home to patients. All we can say is a really big thank you to this team, they are part of the emergency family and without them we would be in a far worse place.”
If you have a 4x4 and would like to help Warwickshire 4x4 Volunteers visit the group’s Facebook page or email email@example.com