TRAINED volunteers will help to keep Felpham’s residents safe in emergencies.
The 40-plus members of the Felpham Emergency Resilience Team have put the area in the forefront of coping with 999 situations.
Helpers will assist the emergency services whenever floods, power failures or extreme weather threaten to cause large-scale disruption. Their efforts are intended to save lives and property and reduce inconvenience in situations such as the flash floods which caused extensive damage across Felpham in June, 2012.
Felpham parish councillor Gloria Moss has led the efforts to put together the team. She said extensive training of the initial volunteers was entering its final months.
“All our volunteers will be able to help in any unpleasant adverse circumstances. It shows the sense of community we have here that so many people are willing to give up some of their spare time to be able to help vulnerable people in emergencies,” she said. “There is a real sense of neighbourliness in what we are doing.”
The emergency resilience work of Cllr Mrs Moss in the past year follows her successful efforts to obtain a defibrillator for Felpham seafront and her desire to get more of the potential life-saving devices for elsewhere in the parish.
She began to advertise for volunteers for the resilience team about a year ago. About 15-20 people attended her initial meeting. Among them was Dave Smart, with extensive experience of attending numerous major rail accidents and subsequent inquiries.
He has since joined the parish council and supported Cllr Mrs Moss as the volunteers’ training sessions began. Further sessions have been held by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service at Bognor Regis fire station.
As well as providing helpers with skills, they have also supplied basic safety equipment such as high-visibility clothing and spades to help them with their tasks.
Cllr Mrs Moss said: “The sessions cover basic first aid, communications and the use of radio systems, table top exercises as well as planning and preparation, communication, emergencies and what our volunteers can do.
“One of the sessions gives an overview of why the team is needed, how we prepare, the control and command structure, what we might attend and what our roles and responsibilities might be.”
The training has also included how the volunteers should identify and evaluate risk in the situations they attend and work to mitigate the dangers.
The diverse nature of the volunteers meant training sessions had to be repeated at different times to ensure they all received the full information but Cllr Mrs Moss expected them to be finished in June. She hoped Felpham’s example would be copied in other areas.