A RED Cross vehicle designed to give emergency support to victims of fires and floods throughout the region was launched earlier this week.
The Fire and Rescue Service was the first in Scotland to receive a Fire and Emergency Support Vehicle (FESS) staffed by Red Cross volunteers in 2007.
The existing van has been mobilised 39 times since its introduction and it is expected the Borders-based vehicle will be just as busy.
The Red Cross provides help to fire and flood victims in the hours immediately after a household emergency by providing short-term crisis support such as clothing, toilet and shower facilities, as well as a telephone to contact relatives and insurers and help to find temporary accommodation.
And although the new van will be based in the central Borders, a spokesperson for the Fire Service said it is designed to help people all over the region, particularly in areas like Berwickshire where the landcape makes life harder for those affected.
They commented: “The Red Cross vehicle will be based in Galashiels but can be mobilised to an incident anywhere in the Scottish Borders area if required. This will be particularly useful in rural areas where immediate shelter may not otherwise be available if someone has been evacuated from their home due to a fire, flood or other emergency.”
The news that Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service had acquired an emergency support vehicle for the region was welcomed warmly by Borders MP Michael Moore who commented: “The work of our local Fire and Rescue Service is absolutely fantastic and I am pleased that it is to be further improved through the launch of this new service.
“The Red Cross are ever present at sports events and Common Ridings in the Borders, providing essential support behind the scenes to keep residents safe and their participation in this new service is brilliant news.
“Fires, floods and other such incidents are incredibly distressing for those affected so I am glad this service will provide the support and practical help people need when faced with such situations.
Group Commander Scott Forbes from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service added: “The addition of a second FESS vehicle based in the Scottish Borders will be an excellent resource to support people who have the misfortune to be caught up in an emergency situation.
“Time and again we hear from operational firefighters how valuable the vehicle is and what an excellent service Red Cross personnel provide.
“When the FESS is on scene fire crews can get on with managing operational matters, secure in the knowledge that people evacuated from their homes are in safe hands.”