The Salvation Army’s new emergency response unit to support emergency service personnel and the community was launched this week on Wednesday, 13 January 2016.
The Salvation Army’s previous emergency response vehicle attended 210 events and emergencies, providing hot food and drink to emergency personnel such as the fire service, the police, and the council’s emergency response team. This saw Salvation Army volunteers and officers serving those working on the front line and the community in emergencies from large fires to hunts for missing people, floods or even providing support for people at sporting events.
The new replacement vehicle is funded by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and The Salvation Army, after the previous van became unreliable after 13 years of use. A commissioning and dedication service will take place at The Salvation Army (Violet Hill Road, IP14 1NE) on Wednesday, January 13 at 11.30am. This will be hosted by The Salvation Army and attended by representatives from Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service including Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham, Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment and Public Protection, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore, and Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Steve Jupp for Suffolk Police.
Mike Baker, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Response Co-ordinator for Suffolk, said: “The Salvation Army has a long history of supporting the community in times of need. People think it is God’s work with its sleeves rolled up.
“We are in partnership with the fire services and they support us and we support them.
“As a Church and a charity The Salvation Army is dedicated to providing compassionate support, a listening ear and practical help to those in need in the community. We see our support of emergency personnel and the local community at emergencies as a vital part of our work.”
The Salvation Army's Suffolk emergency response vehicle attends all major incidents where more than four fire engines are required or lasting longer than four hours. And, while The Salvation Army has supported Suffolk Police in an informal capacity, towards the end of last year a formal agreement was made with Suffolk Police for The Salvation Army to support their personnel in emergency situations as with the fire and rescue service.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, said: “The Salvation Army have provided outstanding support to the fire service and local communities in Suffolk for many years. I am delighted that this will continue with the provision of this jointly funded vehicle, based at Stowmarket fire station. It is also great to see that the use of the vehicle and the volunteers who provide such a fantastic service is now being extended to our blue light partners at Suffolk Constabulary.”
· In May last year Suffolk Police requested the support of The Salvation Army’s emergency response team to attend the search for a woman in Thetford Forest, which saw 200 people turn out to help hunt for her. The Salvation Army provided hot drinks and food for those searching.
· They also served during the floods in Suffolk at the end of 2013.
· One of the largest fires The Salvation Army attended was in April 2002 at Centre Parcs in Elveden, when 39 pumps and special vehicles attended, involving more than 200 firefighters. Salvation Army volunteers and officers provided 700 drinks and made 40 loaves of bread into sandwiches.
· In 2012 the group was also requested to attend the London Mens, Ladies & Paralympic Marathons on three days, providing hot and cold drinks to members of the public.
Since 1978, The Salvation Army’s emergency response team in Suffolk has supported 28,685 emergency personnel and members of the public, served more than 51,331 hot and cold drinks, made 3,487 loaves of bread into sandwiches, and served 2,300 hot meals.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "We are all indebted to the extraordinary work in society by The Salvation Army in so many ways. The Constabulary really appreciates the support of Salvation Army volunteers and officers given to the police during emergencies. They add a different and extremely worthwhile dimension to working with all emergency services in, what can often be, very difficult situations.
“The practical support of hot drinks and sandwiches, combined with the compassionate support makes a huge impact. In summary their contribution is invaluable.”
Major Derek Jones, The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander for its Anglia division, said: “The dedication of Salvation Army volunteers and officers in this emergency services support is a real asset. They respond and serve at any time of the day or night to support emergency services personnel working at the front line with hot drinks, soup, sandwiches, or hot dogs. The emergency services often put their lives at risks to support people in the community during fires and floods, and we look to do what we can to make their time easier while serving, while also supporting the local community. The work The Salvation Army does across this region, and indeed across the UK is a direct response to God, we see living out a Christian faith not as just attending a place of worship regularly, but in reaching out to people in need as Jesus did in His time on earth"