Laura Oakley

Laura Oakley

Laura brings you all the latest stories from the British Red Cross' work across the UK – from emergency response to health and social care – as well as West and Central Africa.

Posts by Laura Oakley:

Imagining the unimaginable: coping with a disaster

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A fake disaster scene as part of the Exercise Unified Response training exercise.

Unfortunately disasters do happen. And when they do, you can rely on our help thanks to some gory make-up, a bunch of actors, and a pretend tube train…

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. When disaster does strike, we must be able to co-ordinate with the emergency services to reduce casualties and distress.

That’s why we travelled to Kent to put our volunteers’ skills to the test in Exercise Unified Response – Europe’s biggest emergency training exercise organised by the London Fire Brigade.

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‘Knowing first aid helped me save a motorcyclist’s life’

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Helen Cowen used her first aid skills to save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed outside her home.Not everyone could handle the sight of a bloodied motorcyclist with a badly severed leg. Helen Cowen could, and her first aid knowledge saved a man’s life.

As 13 March is Good Samaritan Day, what better time to tell you Helen’s story?

“I had decided to sit in the garden one evening when I heard a loud crash,” Helen said.

“At first I thought something had fallen off our recently renovated house. But as I walked to the front of the house, I could see a small crowd gathered on the pavement outside.”

The scene outside her house was upsetting.

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From hospital to home sweet home

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Kathleen and Derek Parsons sat down in their home

Kathleen and Derek Parsons

A bad fall is enough to leave anyone feeling vulnerable and shaken. The British Red Cross can’t catch you as you fall – unless one of our staff or volunteers just happens to be at the right place at the right time! But we can help you pick up the pieces afterwards.

When Derek Parsons stumbled in his garden, he smashed his glasses, broke his hearing aid and ended up with a bleeding cut around his left eye.

Without his ‘eyes and ears’, the 83-year-old was understandably shaken. His wife and son gave him comfort as he waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Later at Poole hospital in Dorset, Derek ended up needing 15 stitches and was kept in overnight. Fortunately he hadn’t broken his eye socket as feared, so was free to go home the next day.

Except Derek had no way of getting home. His wife Kathleen doesn’t drive and his adult sons were either tied up at work or looking after children.

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Journeys of a lifetime

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A Land Rover used by the Liberian Red Cross Society.What was the last important journey you made?

At the British Red Cross we make all kinds of journeys to help people in crisis. It could be to reach a community affected by a flood, or to take someone home after a visit to hospital.

Whatever the crisis, being able to reach these people is vital.

For decades the iconic Land Rover Defender has helped Red Cross volunteers reach people in crises all over the world.

So as the very last of these vehicles rolled off the production line in Solihull at the end of last month, we decided to reflect on some of the important journeys it has helped us to make.

Here are ten of our favourite photos of the Defender in action with the Red Cross.

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