Res­cue vol­un­teers ap­peal for ra­dio aid to cover county

4x4 spe­cial­ists help the emer­gency ser­vices

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Natalie Tip­ping ntip­ping@thek­m­group.co.uk @ntip­pingKM

A char­ity made up of vol­un­teers who give sup­port to res­cue ser­vices is look­ing for a cash in­jec­tion to boost its cov­er­age.

South East 4x4 Re­sponse is a group of 134 un­paid spe­cial­ists, who use their own 4x4 and of­froad ve­hi­cles, equip­ment and skills to help to the emer­gency ser­vices, coun­cils, and other groups across the county.

They also sup­port Kent Search and Res­cue by pro­vid­ing off-road ve­hi­cles to help with searches for vul­ner­a­ble and miss­ing peo­ple.

Over the last year the group has re­sponded to 133 calls for help, rang­ing from clear­ing fallen trees and re­open­ing roads, to trans­port­ing med­i­cal staff to and from pa­tients’ houses in the snow.

So far this year crews have trav­elled 6,872 miles and spent more than 4,800 hours help­ing emer­gency ser­vices and the pub­lic.

Now, the char­ity is hop­ing to raise close to £3,400 to ex­pand its net­work of ra­dios to im­prove its cov­er­age of the whole county. So far, £1,160 has been raised. James Chalk­ley, a spokesman for the group, said: “Com­mu­ni­ca­tions play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in the work we do, and given the unique to­pog­ra­phy and ru­ral na­ture of our county, un­til now, no one sys­tem has proved 100% re­li­able.

“In 2015 we be­gan to in­stall and roll out a digital ra­dio net­work that could cover the whole of the county and al­low quick and re­li­able com­mu­ni­ca­tions from point to point.

“To date we have in­stalled two digital re­peaters, and now have re­li­able cov­er­age across a third of the county, but to give us to­tal cov­er­age we need to ex­pand the in­fra­struc­ture by two more sites.

“In ad­di­tion to this we are also look­ing to buy ad­di­tional ra­dio hand­sets that will al­low us to de­ploy more peo­ple on the ground in re­sponse to emer­gen­cies, to li­aise with lo­cal com­mu­nity re­spon­ders and war­dens, and co­or­di­nate ef­fi­ciently.

“As a di­rect re­sult of the ra­dio net­work, we have been able to as­sist key NHS staff in get­ting to pa­tients quickly in ad­verse con­di­tions, de­liver life-sav­ing equip­ment, and pro­vide im­me­di­ate sup­port to search and res­cue teams work­ing in re­mote lo­ca­tions.”

To do­nate, go to tinyurl.com/ SE4X4Ra­dio

South East 4x4 Re­sponse is a group of un­paid spe­cial­ists

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