Ten years ago, in December 2008, a small group of volunteers from Northants4x4.com discovered that Northamptonshire was not covered by the 4×4 Response Network (as it was then), so set about forming Northants 4×4 Response as a charity to primarily support the two large hospitals in the county: Northampton and Kettering General Hospitals.
By putting their off-road driving skills to good use in their four-wheel drive vehicles, they were able to ensure that key members of hospital staff were able to get to and from their homes, allowing patients to not only receive the vital care needed, but also potentially life-saving operations to continue which without the nurses, surgeons and other members of the medical team, would need to be postponed.
In 2011 the team took part in its first joint exercise with Northamptonshire County Council, ExDanko, and these exercises have steadily grown in scale and scope, including many other organisations from the blue-light services and also other voluntary groups in the county, and have covered everything from a helicopter crash to a zombie invasion; evacuation of a major event owing to flash-flooding to lost children in a rural area, and each time the team has proven its usefulness in ensuring that the right people can get to the right places along with their equipment or supplies, regardless of prevailing conditions or terrain.
Over the last ten years, around 240 people have volunteered for the team at various times and in varying roles, from Responders who take to the roads to transport people and equipment through the worst of weathers, through to our Control & Dispatch team members who receive the calls for assistance and match them to the closest, most suitable Responders whilst ensuring the team’s welfare in conditions where most people would prefer to be indoors!
Our volunteers have covered thousands of miles on treacherous, snow-covered roads, at all hours of the day and night, donating their time and the use of their own personal vehicles to support the emergency and essential services, delivering personnel and equipment safely to their destinations.
Ten years on, our volunteers are still doing what they do best, providing all-terrain logistic support when required, but the organisations we support have changed, their requirements have evolved, and alongside that the team has grown, adapted and changed to suit.
With a current strength of around 50 volunteers, the team is ready to face the next ten years and beyond, adapting to the needs of our service users and ready to take on whatever weather Mother Nature sends our way.