Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Coastguards help ambulance crews

Haylings Road, Isle of Wight (pic Chris Vivien)
Coastguards have been particularly busy on the Isle of Wight

Coastguard teams across the south coast have been called upon to move inland to help ambulance crews in the big freeze.

Ground staff in 4x4 vehicles have transported patients, helped paramedics reach emergencies and taken doctors and nurses to hospitals from cut-off areas.

They are on standby over the weekend as more snow is expected in some parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

In the meantime, roads across the county were improving after warmer temperatures on Friday night.

A police spokesman said: "Temperature didn't freeze last night, thankfully, so the roads are clear and seem to be improving gradually."

Emergency hotline

On the Isle of Wight, Ventnor and Needles coastguard teams have responded to people injured in the icy weather, transporting them to hospital.

A coastguard helicopter was also used to evacuate a patient with spinal injuries from the Isle of Wight to Southampton.

Emergency hotline number
02380 233 344

Isle of Wight coastguard sector manager, Mike Forsyth-Caffrey, said: "As a Category 1 Emergency Service responder, Her Majesty's Coastguard have a duty to assist our colleagues in the other agencies, and our 4x4 vehicles, first aid training and stretchers make us the obvious choice to assist in these conditions.

"Coastguards across the South Coast involved are experiencing types of work they do not routinely do, and this is honing the skills they already have, as well as giving them familiarity with the skills of the paramedics and ambulance technicians".

The forecast snow, expected to hit the region on Sunday, has prompted Southampton City Council to set up an emergency hotline for vulnerable people left without food and heating.

It said the weekend hotline would help people "in distress".

University closed

However a spokesman added: "With sub zero temperatures and more snow forecast for the weekend, the council encourages everyone to consider their neighbours and any elderly or vulnerable people they know."

The University of Southampton has said it will be closed on Monday because it has no grit.

Traffic on the A3(M) northbound in Horndean, Hampshire, on Tuesday evening (picture by Tracey Pereira)
Up to 1,000 drivers were stranded on the A3 overnight on Tuesday

"Our current supply of grit has run out and our pre-ordered replacement grit has been redirected to the Highways Agency," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile 26 cars remained abandoned on the A3 after the heavy snowfalls on Tuesday evening.

Most are in the Hindhead area, on the border of Hampshire and Surrey.

The motorists had until 0900 GMT on Saturday to collect their vehicles, or they were warned a storage fee would be charged when police towed them away.

On Friday, hundreds of homes along the A3 had their electricity restored after the heavy snow brought down power cables by the road.

The A3 between Horndean and Buriton was reopened following the completion of emergency repairs.

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