British Red Cross to assist South Wales Fire and Rescue with emergencies in Rhondda Cynon Taf
Written by Gavin on 17th November 2023
The British Red Cross has launched a dedicated volunteer team which together with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, will provide support to people affected by crisis across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
British Red Cross volunteers will deploy at the request of the Fire and Rescue Service to attend call-outs across Rhondda Cynon Taf and the surrounding areas, providing emotional and practical support to those affected. The volunteer-led British Red Cross Emergency Response team and vehicle – a Land Rover Defender – are based at Pontypridd fire Station.
Martyn Jones, who lives in Llanharry, has been with the Red Cross for almost 5 years and is part of the new team. He said:
“In April 2019, I started working for the British Red Cross in ambulance support in Williamstown, which is in Rhondda Cynon Taf. I then signed up as an Emergency Response Volunteer and loved the organisation, what it stood for and the impact it had on people’s lives so much that when the opportunity came to work for the Emergency Response team, I jumped at the chance. Now I have been an Emergency Response Officer with Red Cross for 3 months, I am really looking forward to this next opportunity to help our local community.
“I live 25 minutes away from Pontypridd Fire Station, where our new team is based. The fire station is right next door to the University of South Wales, where I did my master's2 degree in Disaster Management for Environmental Hazards a few years ago. My thesis looked at vulnerability in Rhondda Cynon Taf, so it is satisfying to be able to put the knowledge, skills, and experience I gained from my time studying in Pontypridd into practise, serving the very community that taught me those things.
“I lived in Japan for a while and my daughter was there during the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. This is what motivated me to learn about disaster
management and to want to support people caught up in emergencies. I didn’t even know these kinds of jobs existed until I stumbled across that course.”
The highly trained Emergency Response team is made up of volunteers from the British Red Cross who give their time freely, responding to incidents 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. They help those affected by emergencies both during and after, supplementing the support from statutory agencies, such as Fire and Rescue Services.
The vehicle they use has been specially adapted for emergencies, stocked with practical support items such as clothes, blankets and hygiene packs. The teams are able to attend different kinds of emergency incidents to support people in crisis, such as domestic fires, floods or major incidents.
On working closer with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Martyn said:
“This new service we are launching in partnership will enable us to support our local community. Being involved in a house fire, flood or a major incident can be very traumatic – many people struggle, finding it difficult to know what to do next.
“This new service enables us to support people in their hour of need. Our volunteers are highly skilled in providing the emotional and practical support that people may need in the aftermath of an incident. We can provide a simple gesture of a cup of tea along with somewhere safe to sit, clean clothing and support in the next steps of recovering from a crisis.
Henry Barnes, British Red Cross Emergency Response Manager for Wales said:
“The British Red Cross stands ready to help the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf and surrounding areas. We look forward to working alongside the Fire and Rescue Services to expand our support during emergencies, ensuring that support for people’s practical and emotional needs is available whenever and wherever emergencies strike.”
Huw Morse, Group Manager of Rhondda Cynon Taf Fire and Rescue Stations, said:
“South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are proud to be expanding their involvement with the British Red Cross with a vehicle positioned at Pontypridd Fire Station. The British Red Cross provide a crucial element of support for members of the public and the Fire Service themselves during critical incidents. This successful collaboration has been ongoing for several years and the latest addition of a vehicle in the Pontypridd area will enhance the operability and support into the communities of Rhondda Cynon Taf and beyond.”
Speaking following the launch, Heledd Fychan, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for South Wales Central said:
“Residents and businesses across Rhondda Cynon Taf have experienced a number of emergency situations, including devastating flooding in recent years.
“The launch of this specialised team will bring a lot of comfort to communities who face a crisis or continue to be at risk of flooding, offering essential emotional support but also stands ready to provide the practical support that our communities desperately need.
“There is still a lot of work to do to address the risk of flooding in Rhondda Cynon Taf but having a team located in the heart of our community is a very welcome development. I would like to thank the British Red Cross and all their volunteers for making this possible.”
For more information on volunteering for the British Red Cross visit http://www.redcross.org.uk to find an opportunity near you.
To apply for a role as an Emergency Response Volunteer (Pontypridd) go to https://volunteer.redcross.org.uk/opportunities/40554-emergency-response-volunteer-prontypridd-2022-11-30