Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 12:38 UK

'Staff were sleeping on air beds'

Droitwich High Street flooded on 21 July, 2007
A lot of roads were blocked by floodwaters, leaving people stranded

Derek Laird, locality director for West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, took a leading role in the emergency response to the flooding which hit last July.

He was among staff who provided round-the-clock cover while holed up at the service's Emergency Operations Centre in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, over the weekend beginning Friday, 20 July.

My memory is that the situation started to worsen on the Friday, a day that you would really want to leave at the normal time. There had been lots of heavy rain and where I live in Tenbury Wells was among those areas affected, so there was an issue about getting home from the centre.

I had to make a hard personal decision, whether to go home or to stay and make sure that operations ran OK.

There were already staff who couldn't get home and others who couldn't get in. There were a lot of roads blocked.

I decided to stay and coincidentally I had been camping the weekend before with colleagues and had four blow-up beds and sleeping bags in the car, which I brought in.

Fire crews rescues residents in Evesham, Worcestershire, on 21 July, 2007
Hundreds of people had to be rescued

We had some staff living in Upton, which was of course was badly hit.

So we had people sleeping upstairs in the offices, sleeping for about four or five hours at a time all over the weekend.

Normally we get up to 150 or 200 calls a day, but we were getting about 300 a day, from recollection.

One of the main issues was the M5 motorway, where we had miles of traffic stuck in tailbacks.

There were issues such as people needing dialysis who were stuck in traffic, and others with diabetes.

Pregnant woman

We were using a helicopter to get emergency medical supplies to people.

The biggest issue was a lady who went into labour, who was helped to hospital.

We also helped evacuate three residential homes in the area.

The general public were generally very good and were not phoning up unnecessarily.

We had messages going out on local radio which kept people informed.

We had a lot of support from a range of agencies - it was a big team effort.

We set up Gold Command at Millennium Point, which was the strategic centre co-ordinating the response.

The local hotel was providing food for us and Land Rover was able to provide a number of 4x4 vehicles at short notice which helped with our work.

I think in general our response was pretty good.

I can't remember being tired. We were extremely busy and the adrenalin kicked in.

I think I was back in work on the Monday.

Flood couple finally return home
28 Mar 08 |  Hereford/Worcs


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