Sussex drivers of 4×4 vehicles are to help police deal with major emergencies in the county. Sussex 4×4 Response and Sussex Police signed an agreement for the charity’s members to support officers at some major incidents.
Members of Sussex 4×4 Response will volunteer to help with transportation in difficult conditions at short notice around the clock. The roles could include trips such as taking key staff to work so they can do their jobs, delivering supplies or equipment to officers involved in operations or helping with search and rescue operations.
It will not involve the volunteers taking on police roles or dealing with 999 emergencies.
Sussex 4×4 Response already helps NHS staff including doctors and nurses to get to work or to patients during emergencies when they might otherwise be unable to get there safely.
The idea was trialled successfully by Sussex Police during the sudden snowfall in the county in March when Sussex 4×4 Response volunteers helped get 999 control centre staff to their offices to keep the emergency telephone system working.
Inspector Andy Kundert, Sussex Police’s head of emergency planning, said: “The Sussex 4×4 Response volunteers could be of great help in an emergency.
“They will allow us to help more people by reducing the logistical problems that can be caused by extreme weather or difficult ground conditions, especially in more rural locations.
“For example, instead of officers being tied up getting staff to the 999 control centres, they will be able to stay out on patrols helping members of the public while the volunteers transport the workers to where they need to be.
“We will be able to concentrate on doing our job of making sure people stay safe.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am delighted to see this agreement in place between Sussex Police and Sussex 4×4 Response members, which recognises the vital support they can provide during certain incidents to help keep residents safe.
“Volunteers play an important role in the communities they serve and I am seeking to support other schemes like this.”
Mike Cook, the chairman of Sussex 4×4 Response, said: “The signing of this agreement is the culmination of months of negotiation between Sussex 4×4 Response and Sussex Police.
“We are very pleased that our members’ hard work, dedication and professionalism have been recognised and we look forward to helping the force in the service of our community.”
The photograph shows some of the Sussex 4×4 Response members (orange jackets) with PCC Katie Bourne (centre), Inspector Andy Kundert (to her left, in black) and Deputy Chief Constable Giles York (to her right, at the back, in white)