Category: Emergencies

Community spirit hits home

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The other day my Mum was attacked right outside her house in broad daylight. She had just arrived home from work and was wheeling her bike into her drive, which is on a sleepy road in west London.

As she got her house keys out of her bag, she felt a hard thwack to the back of her neck. “I was terrified…I thought I was being mugged,” she told me later. Momentarily stunned, she looked around, but couldn’t see anyone behind her. More

Monday Movement update #7

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

A woman and baby in Mexico wear face masks

Swine flu: More than 100 people are thought to have died from swine flu in Mexico and cases have been reported in the USA and Canada. The British Red Cross has announced it’s ready to respond if there’s a large scale outbreak in the UK.

Sri Lanka conflict: As fighting continues to devastate civilians and the medical services in Sri Lanka, the ICRC has again reminded both parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law in all circumstances. More

Monday Movement update #6

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Philippines kidnapping: Andreas Notter, the ICRC staff member who was kidnapped in the Philippines on 15 January, was freed on Saturday. His colleague Eugenio Vagni is still being held in captivity.

Sri Lanka conflict: The ICRC has evacuated more than 10,000 sick and injured people and their caregivers from the conflict zone to safer areas. Makeshift medical facilities in the conflict zone have been directly affected, with staff and patients killed and injured. More

Why Stephen Fry is my second favourite British man

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I know my accent doesn’t come across well in blog posts, but I’m originally from California. Growing up, if you’d asked me what British men were like, I’d have said this: incredibly intelligent, very droll, and exceedingly kind-hearted.

Flash forward to me watching QI for the first time and ‘meeting’ Stephen Fry, my second favourite British man.*

I wouldn’t be explaining all this to you if Stephen Fry hadn’t done something that sealed his place in my heart. More

It’s good to talk

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How many of you know a guy who actually likes to chat on the phone for ages? I’m guessing not many of you. That’s how I knew that the new FESS telephone support service we started was worth its weight in gold.

Traditionally our FESS team provided a crisis intervention service, which sounds a lot posher than it actually is. The fire service or police would activate us, we’d make our way to the incident, do the best we could and then leave. That was the end of our job.

Following a call out at the end of last year we’ve now extended the service we offer to include help over the phone. What this means is that we can offer comfort and advice to people at any time of day or night even if we don’t have a crew working at the time.

So how did it all start?

At about half past six on a winter’s night I took a call from fire control to ask if there was anything we could do to help a family who’d had a fire that day. The house was uninhabitable and though the family had relatives they could stay with they were very shaken up.

I wasn’t sure what help I could offer from the other end of a phone line but thought it was worth a try. It turns out there’s a lot you can do. The fire had been started by the two year old baby who had accidentally turned the hob on, setting fire to the shopping that had been left on top of it. More

It's good to talk

By

How many of you know a guy who actually likes to chat on the phone for ages? I’m guessing not many of you. That’s how I knew that the new FESS telephone support service we started was worth its weight in gold.

Traditionally our FESS team provided a crisis intervention service, which sounds a lot posher than it actually is. The fire service or police would activate us, we’d make our way to the incident, do the best we could and then leave. That was the end of our job.

Following a call out at the end of last year we’ve now extended the service we offer to include help over the phone. What this means is that we can offer comfort and advice to people at any time of day or night even if we don’t have a crew working at the time.

So how did it all start?

At about half past six on a winter’s night I took a call from fire control to ask if there was anything we could do to help a family who’d had a fire that day. The house was uninhabitable and though the family had relatives they could stay with they were very shaken up.

I wasn’t sure what help I could offer from the other end of a phone line but thought it was worth a try. It turns out there’s a lot you can do. The fire had been started by the two year old baby who had accidentally turned the hob on, setting fire to the shopping that had been left on top of it. More

Monday Movement update #5

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Philippines kidnapping: ICRC staff member Mary Jean Lacaba was released on 2 April after 78 days in captivity. Her colleagues Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter are still being held.

Italian earthquake: Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene within an hour of this morning’s devastating earthquake in L’Aquila. They’ve set up a field hospital and mobile kitchens and are helping evacuate the injured and perform first aid.

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Can G20 bring new dawn in Zimbabwe?

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Zimbabwe was the first African country I visited – it was 1995, I was 21 years old and it fulfilled all my dreams of what I imagined Africa to be. It was pure adventure, from the hustle and heat of the capital Harare, to travelling across the country on red, dusty roads with people carrying all manner of things on their heads and finally the rushing waters of the Zambezi. I fell in love with the enormity of the landscape and its smokey dusk after brilliant sunsets – so different from what I’d known growing up in London.

Girls carrying buckets of water on their heads

Then there was the amazing generosity of the people. I was travelling with a friend and it seemed that everyone we met offered us an unexpected kindness, buying us meals, putting us up in their homes, going out of their way to show us around their country, of which they were so proud.

And so I’ve found it heartbreaking to watch this wonderful country trapped in a social and economic downward spiral. More