UK – Young people most at risk in a flood according to British Red Cross and Environment Agency

Young people most at risk in a flood, warns Environment Agency & British Red Cross

  • 18-34s least aware of dangers of flooding in their area
  • More than half of 18-34s would not know what to do in an emergency
  • Mental health impacts of flooding can last for two years or more

The Environment Agency and British Red Cross are urging young people to learn how to protect themselves and help their communities when flooding hits after research shows a lack of knowledge is putting them at risk.

According to Environment Agency research, 18-34 year olds are least likely to know if the area where they live is at risk of flooding and least likely to know how to protect their homes and possessions. Less than half (48%) of under 35s would know what to do if a flood warning was issued.

This week, the government published new climate change projections which show that sea levels are set to rise over this century and more frequent, extreme weather requires urgent action. This means that knowing your flood risk and understanding what action to take in a flood is more important than ever.

5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and the average cost of flood damage to a home is £30,000 but the devastating consequences can go beyond the material. Those who experience flooding in their own home are also at high risk of suffering from negative mental health impacts which can last for years after flooding has hit. The most recent Public Health England research shows that over a third of people who were flooded in 2014 suffered with depression, anxiety or PTSD and nearly a quarter of people were still experiencing these negative mental health impacts two years later.

In December 2015, Storm Desmond struck North West England and caused extensive flooding, leaving 45,000 homes without power. Thousands of properties in Cumbria were flooded including a church in Kendal where local resident, Jonny Gios still works. He said:

Being flooded turned our world upside down for a whole year. The community came together in an amazing way during the recovery process but the stress and worry in the months that followed was devastating. It was difficult to unpack the trauma and took several months of counselling – suffering physical and emotional symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

I can’t underline how important it is to be prepared and to know what to do when flooding hits. Simple actions can make a huge difference and could save you months of trying to gather your life and home back together.

The Environment Agency has today launched its Flood Action Campaign, partnering with the Red Cross, to encourage young people to learn how to Prepare Act Survive in a flood to reduce the impacts of damage, and to join a new national network of Community Reserve Volunteers to help their communities if disaster strikes.

Caroline Douglass, Director of Incident Management & Resilience at the Environment Agency said:

The terrible impacts of flooding can last long after the flood waters have receded. But simple actions can lessen the damage to your home, protect your wellbeing and help you recover more quickly.

Our flood defences protect thousands of homes around the country but we can never entirely eliminate the risk of flooding, which is why it’s crucial to know how to protect yourself when it hits.

Simon Lewis, Head of Emergency Response at the British Red Cross, said:

We respond to an emergency every four hours in the UK, from major fires to devastating floods. Flooding can have a catastrophic impact on homes and communities, causing untold damage to the things and the people we treasure most. That’s why it’s vital we all know what to do, and how to help, to lessen the impact and help communities rebuild and recover faster.

Sadly we cannot always stop things like this from happening, but by becoming a community reserve volunteer, young people across the UK could help make a difference should the worst happen.

The British Red Cross wants to create a national network of 10,000 community reserve volunteers who can be called upon to help in a crisis. Over 5,000 people have already signed up to the scheme so far.

To be a community reserve volunteer you don’t need specialist skills to make a difference and simple acts of kindness can make big difference. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted. With these two initiatives the Environment Agency and the Red Cross want to see younger people not only better prepared for flooding but also more actively involved in supporting the community in times of need.

The Environment Agency is spending more than £2.6 billion to build flood schemes around the country as part of its current programme, which will better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

UK – Vodafone connects South Central Ambulance Service First Responders to boost patient response

Vodafone UK is providing South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) with mobile devices and a bespoke app to improve efficiency and response times for its 1,200 Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co Responders (Police, Fire & Military) in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. CFRs and Co Responders are volunteers trained to attend medical emergencies and start lifesaving interventions prior to the arrival of an ambulance.  These interventions can have a significant positive impact on patient outcomes.

The Vodafone solution includes a bespoke app and the provision of mobile devices with 4G connectivity, which can be securely managed, protecting patient information. To date, 350 mobile devices are in operation across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, with a further 210 to be issued over the coming weeks.

The bespoke app, developed in partnership with CommonTime, enables simple and reliable communication between the Community First Responders and their office-based control centre – the Clinical Coordination Centre.

Community First Responders can log in and report that they are available to respond.  When an incident occurs, the closest available responder will be alerted and provided with the exact location, fastest route and incident details. On arrival, they can share critical information about the incident and request additional support from the emergency services.  For their safety, CFRs are tracked at all times through GPS.

Nic Morecroft, Head of Operations – Community Engagement & Training, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We recognise there is a huge opportunity to improve patient care using digital technology. Our partnership with Vodafone highlights how implementing technology solutions can have an immediate and real impact on the service we offer to patients.  We have already seen improved efficiencies and feedback from our first responders has been extremely positive.”

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director from Vodafone UK said: “We are delighted to be working with the South Central Ambulance Service to help improve response times for this critical service, and ultimately patient care. We will be working together to identify other areas where we can use the power of technology to bring benefits to both Community First Responders and patients.”

UK – NEAS launches new resource to support patients with learning disabilities

The North East Ambulance Service has launched a new resource to support patients with learning disabilities.

A new online resource is now available on the Trust’s website, giving people the information in an easy read format that will help them to choose which emergency service they require, be it  NHS111 or 999.

Public Health England has stated that 40% of people with a learning disability reported having difficulty using health services.  People with learning disabilities are two and a half times more likely to have health problems than other people and therefore many of the patients that staff provide aid to often have barriers to communication during triage and treatment. (Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap).

Engagement manager at the Trust, Mark Johns, explained why there was a need to develop information for different people who use the service.  He said, “We know from patient feedback and surveys that people with learning disabilities find it harder to access and communicate with our service.

Information about how to use our services should be readily available to all members of the public, including people with learning disabilities, and we wanted to make sure that we tailored the information so that it’s accessible to people who need it in a different format.”

The NEAS learning disability zone has been created to reduce barriers to communication for people with learning disabilities to optimise patient experience and quality of care.  The information is presented an illustrative form of what to do in an emergency, including a section of what to expect inside an ambulance with pictures and basic descriptions of the equipment in the vehicle.

A user led project group was set up with a community group which supports people with learning disabilities to understand the obstacles individuals face and to help design new guidance on how to access emergency assistance.

Stephen Mckay Guidepost day centre officer said, “We support a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of learning disabilities and it’s encouraging to see this work has taken into consideration the varied capacity and needs of these individuals and the end product speaks for itself. So many places create resources for people with learning disabilities without meaningful engagement with them.

“It’s great that the group have been so heavily involved in creating this zone and actually really listened to. NEAS has broken down the barriers that people with learning disabilities can face when it comes to accessing the right healthcare services and developed a resource we think will help support others to understand the services they offer.”

Mark continues “The project group explained their fears about being inside an ambulance and calling 999 so we’ve tried to allay their fears with more information about what happens once calling us and once on board an ambulance. We hope this new resource gives confidence to people when they come across and need our emergency services. For NEAS, it means that our call handlers will be aware of what to expect when arranging the appropriate help for the person in need, making the experience less stressful for all concerned.”

NEAS also arranged for the project group to meet a paramedic who showed them around the inside of an ambulance and encouraged them to experience sitting on the stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask, should it ever happen to them in the future.

Carol who was one of the participants in the project group said, “I was terrified of the mask, that’s why I asked to have a go.  Now I won’t be scared if I needed to ever use it in real life. I hope when people see my picture they won’t feel scared too. The North East Ambulance Service’s website is really good and I’m glad I got to tell the paramedics and other staff what I wanted to know.”

Paul, who was another participant in the project group said, “The new NEAS website page is really good and I really like that NEAS listened to me and I will show other people so they can learn how to get help too.”

You can find out more about the disability learning zone by following this link: /patient-info/learning-disability-zone.aspx