4x4 volunteers cover hundreds of miles to get NHS staff to work in snow

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients.

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients. - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

Volunteers have driven hundreds of miles over the last few days to help critical care staff get to patients as the charity they volunteer for has been "inundated" with calls for help.

The Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response Team has been out offering assistance in the snow since Sunday, mainly through transporting NHS staff and other workers as well as dropping off grit and assessing pathways for emergency vehicles.

Among those in action was Katerina Nemcova, from Tivetshall St Margaret, who was deployed to help five nurses get to patients in Suffolk on Monday. 

Katerina Nemcova, is a volunteer for the The Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response Team

Katerina Nemcova, is a volunteer for the The Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response Team - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

The volunteer made the decision to reschedule her workday, including 15 meetings, and was on the road by 7am heading to Ipswich, a journey that took two hours due to the conditions, as she passed along the A140.

In addition to helping nurses, Miss Nemcova used her vehicle to pull vehicles including a delivery vehicle out of the snow.

She said: "I knew we were going to be really busy and were going to have the NHS need our support.

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients.

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients. - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients.

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients. - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

"A lot of these places I have never been before and I've lived here for seven years. It's a case of driving sensibly and being aware of the conditions and paying a lot of attention where the edge of the road is. 

"What makes it worthwhile is working with the NHS to take the nurses who provide care for patients who are by themselves, that are housebound that have no chance to get that help. That's what makes it worthwhile is you are able to help get someone to a patient who needs that medication or help."

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From Ipswich, she travelled to Woodbridge and back, before heading to Bramford, Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and then home through Diss.

A map showing the distance covered by Katerina Nemcova

A map showing the distance Miss Nemcova covered on Monday as part of her volunteering. Travelling from her Norfolk home to Ipswich, Woodbridge, before heading to Bramford, Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and then home through Diss. - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

During her journey, she came across a snow drift that was level with the car's roof, roughly 2m high and saw a number of vehicles stuck in the snow, arriving home shortly after 5pm.

Dan Harris, fuelling up his vehicle before heading out to transport emergency workers home in the snow.

Dan Harris, fuelling up his vehicle before heading out to transport emergency workers home in the snow. - Credit: Dan Harris

Dan Harris, who has been with the response service for 15 years, helped ambulance and nursing staff on Monday by taking them to their destination.

The businessman had been planning to go to work as normal on Sunday evening at his electrical business but took on a number of drops-off starting with taking a nurse from Martham to the James Paget University Hospital for 7am on Monday morning.

He then dropped off a nurse from Great Yarmouth to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and transported two other NNUH nurses, living in Norwich and Dereham, covering around 150 miles on Monday morning.

After a few hours sleep, he readied his vehicle to pick up call handling staff from the East of England Ambulance Service in Norwich to take them home on Monday evening.

He said: "It's mild compared to the Beast from the East, I was out for nearly four days flat. It's more of a case the people we are taking in are critical to other people, if I had a family member that needed help and there wasn't the nurses and doctors available, I would be upset, if I can do my bit to ensure those people are in the places they need to be that's a small part. It's just doing my bit to help. 

"The major roads were getting a bit clear and local roads were still quite hard.

"There's a large amount of good work that can be done with a 4x4."

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients.

Katerina Nemcova's 4x4 driving through Suffolk to help nursing staff get to patients. - Credit: Katerina Nemcova

Fakenham-based volunteer Jonathan Court, with friend Rob Hillyard, use their 4x4s to rescue seven drivers, including a Next delivery lorry when it got into difficulty on Monday.

Altogether 43 volunteers have made themselves available across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Kalvin McLeod,  vice-chairman of Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response and controller of deployment, said at one point he had received 23 calls in the space of 48 minutes.

He said: "We have been inundated with calls."

In Norfolk, Norse have provided vehicles to assist the charity who have also been supported by the fire service, council and police. Volunteers in Suffolk have been helped by AECAT, the fire and rescue service and search and rescue and police.

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