Emergency Response team supports Holy Island 999 training

published on 27 Feb 2024

holy island ERV
Ronnie and Julie

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Response team took part in a challenging training operation on Lindisfarne, Northumbria, as part of its work supporting 999 services. 

The church and charity’s Emergency Response Vehicle in the North East provides hot drinks, food and a listening ear to 999 workers while they attend emergencies. 

This multi-agency exercise, which was led by Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service alongside the Mountain Rescue teams, Coastguard and Natural England, was to help prepare for scenarios such as wildfires. Being held on Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, which is inaccessible twice a day due to the tides, made the exercise even more challenging. 

The Salvation Army’s Julie Judson, who is a Chaplain for Swan Lodge Lifehouse in Sunderland and for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, said: “It was a privilege to be able to support the emergency personnel on the beautiful Holy Island and run through different scenarios that the 999 teams will face as the weather starts to warm up. We provided refreshments throughout the day and had the opportunity to speak to the workers on site and to see what goes on behind the scenes.

holy island ERV

“It was a challenging exercise as Holy Island is only accessible at certain times of the day. We had to cross over to the island at 10am but needed to be away by 4.30pm or risk being stuck there, plus the weather wasn’t great!

“It was a real team effort so thanks to our volunteers and also to our Lifehouse in Sunderland, Swan Lodge, who provided a mini bus to transport items. Special thanks to volunteer Ronnie who supported throughout the exercise, driving the mini-bus and setting up the refreshments.

“The emergency services say how much they appreciate what The Salvation Army does during fraught and stressful situations. We feel privileged to be able to support them in this way, not only offering hot drinks and food, but importantly a listening ear and spiritual support.”

As well as supporting 999 personnel, each year the Emergency Response Vehicle, which is staffed by dedicated volunteers, supports the Great North Run and last year helped builders as part of the BBC One show DIY SOS. 

The Salvation Army has a memorandum of understanding with both Tyne and Wear and Northumbria Fire and Rescue.

Across the UK, the church and charity has 25 response vehicles, which attend around 300 to 350 incidents each year.

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