Today we've got Gemma, one of our fantastic Salisbury Community Resilience Team members sharing her story with a behind the scenes glimpse of what our volunteers do when deployed.
Take it away Gemma - introduce yourself!
I'm Gemma, 30 years old. A member of Salisbury Community Resilience Team - Swift Water Rescue Trained and Power Boat Level 2 trained. I'm a tutor with the Prince's Trust Team Programme.
Why did you get involved with Serve On?
As a Team Leader one of the young people I worked with started work experience with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service through Dan, Director of Operations and got involved with Serve On. In fact, he was to be Serve On's first cadet! I went along to see him in action and was so blown away by what the teams do I joined and have been a member ever since. I love the community ethos that runs through the charity, training isn't militarised at all and you do awesome things!
What would your day-to-day life be like, when not deployed?
As a Team Leader for the Prince's Trust I deliver self development courses to 16 - 25 year olds. I have a wife and a one year old daughter. I work Monday to Friday and spend weekends with my family (or doing Serve On activities!)
What goes through your head when a development preparation starts?
"What can I do." When the deployment call out came for the floods in Tadcaster I wanted to be there for my team. It's difficult to balance deployments with family activities but there is never any pressure to abandon family commitments. The next thing is helping with preparations and packing the kit you'll need in the field. We are a team who support each other, we are well trained too and this prepares you for what you may face during deployment.
Did you have any plans over Christmas and New Year that had to be abandoned?
We were spending Christmas with the in-laws and celebrated a birthday, but I missed spending my daughter's first New Year with her.
Are there any stories that stuck with you from deployment?
I met a couple who had lived in Tadcaster all their life - they were from a village where we sent a wading team into! They had never seen anything like the floods that were devastating the region. We talked for a while, about how they felt so awful for all the families affected during the festive period and the businesses that had lost everything. They were so proud of the community spirit that was being shown (I was very emotional about this!) but when I explained who we were and where we had come from she started to cry. She called her partner over again and said "do you know how far they have come to help us - WILTSHIRE!" The strength of the local people, the kindness that everyone showed us meant that I felt a part of their community. It was an incredible experience to be a part of and these moments brought back so clearly the reasons why I do this."
What did you do when deployed?
We cleared the Tadcaster NHS Health Centre, cleared debris and contaminated belongings into skips, shovelled sand that had been covered in oil and offered assistance to all local businesses.
How did you feel when you got home?
Talking to family and friends about the deployment helped me reflect. I felt proud of what I had done but didn't want praise for doing it, it wasn't about that. I felt compelled to say how bad it was but the news doesn't convey that human emotion we saw in the field. It was great being in the minibus with Paul, Fids and Phil and then putting all of our training into practice. To be part of such an incredible team of people and form new friendships is great.
Thanks for sharing your story Gemma - if you would like to become a member of our Community Resilience Teams get in touch today!