If you’ve been reading my snowy news stories on the main Red Cross website in the past week (and if you haven’t, what a rare treat you’ve been missing) you’ll notice we’ve been helping the emergency services right up and down the country.

And yesterday someone asked me a very simple question: why are you lot helping them, and how does all that work? It’s a fair question, so I’ll do my best to answer.

Being a savvy organisation, the Red Cross has pre-existing arrangements in place with the emergency services all over the UK. This means that, when something goes wrong, they can call us and be sure we’ll launch an immediate response.

The Red Cross helps out in all kinds of ways. If there’s a big accident, say, our ambulance crews can take on routine calls to free up paramedics for the serious stuff. When there’s a domestic blaze, our fire and emergency support service turns out to look after those who have lost their homes so the fire-fighters can get on with their heroic business.

And when there’s a huge blanket of deep snow covering the country…well, that’s when we come in especially useful.

The organisation’s fleet of specially-equipped Land Rover 4×4 vehicles can access areas that standard ambulances couldn’t hope to reach. When the snow’s a foot deep, the roads are like skating rinks and fierce blizzards have reduced visibility to the end of your nose (I may exaggerate slightly), you need the right vehicles. And trained drivers who can manage them. The Red Cross delivers on both fronts.

So when major snowstorms happen and the emergency services find themselves uber-busy on all fronts, many essential tasks – such as transporting patients, emergency call-outs, even ferrying doctors and nurses to hospital – fall to the Red Cross. It’s not for nothing an ambulance spokesman last week called our support a ‘godsend’.

And at times like these, the accidents just keep piling up. Yesterday our emergency response volunteers came across a family of four in the Highlands whose car had veered off a remote road. They rescued the grateful brood and towed their car back home. Who knows how long they would have been there otherwise?

So if you peek out your frosted window in the next few days and see Red Cross volunteers trundling past in a 4×4 vehicle, raise your hot cup of tea in tribute. They’re doing a grand job.