4x4 drivers there in an emergency

By Anwen Evans
POWYS 4x4 Response Group was formed by a group of 4x4 enthusiasts in Mid Wales back in 2005.

The group aims to provide logistical support to the local emergency planning officer and emergency services in times of severe weather and local emergencies.

It consists of more than 50 4x4 owners based in and around Powys who have agreed to be on standby for a call-out during a time of an emergency areas that they can cover include both Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire.

The group is currently in the process of finalising call out procedures with Powys County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and the Welsh NHS Ambulance Trust.

A formal arrangement has been in place with Powys County Council Emergency Planning Office (EPO) since the beginning of the year.

A Powys County Council spokesman said: "The Powys 4x4 Response Group will help provide logistical support to the council and emergency services in times of severe weather and local emergency.

"Due to the physical constraints of the county, the council may not be able to reach areas during severe weather, putting service users at risk. The response group will enable the council to get to these places.

"Last winter the group provided support to Social Services by providing transport for domiciliary care workers to reach some of our service users.

"The response group used their vehicles to transport care workers through up to six inches of snow to reach isolated locations in the Mochdre and Cefn Coch areas."

The primary roles for the group are expected to be transportation of personnel and equipment in snow and flood conditions and across rough terrain.

A Dyfed Powys Police spokesman confirmed: "We are currently in early discussions with the Powys 4x4 response group about the possibility of them helping us during emergency call outs. No agreement has yet been finalised."

The group is part of the National 4x4 Response Network which is also in the process of finalising a set of standards to include vehicle specifications, communications protocols and training and assessment programmes.

These aim to ensure that user services have the confidence that they will get a reliable and robust service from such groups.

Mark Margetts, the group's co-ordinator and founding member, said: "All of our members have well prepared and maintained 4x4 vehicles that are very capable and they spend much of their spare time at off-roading events developing their driving skills.

"It seems a logical move to offer these skills to be used as part of the emergency planning infrastructure, so that they can be called upon in the event of an emergency."

The group has developed a programme of activities for the next 12 months to include practical training and assessment days for members and also a couple of public fundays at which it hopes to raise funds for the group's nominated charity the Air Ambulance.
Members will aim to raise more than 10,000 for the charity in 2007 alone.

In the meantime the group is looking for more volunteers with 4x4 vehicles to join the register (training will be provided). The group is also looking for donations and sponsorship from local companies to assist in getting the project off the ground.

Any volunteers or companies that are able to help the group in any way should contact info@powys4x4response.org