The key role of hundreds of volunteers ready to help deal with emergencies is being co-ordinated across North Yorkshire to ensure the response can be even more effective.

North Yorkshire Council says teams of specially-trained volunteers are on hand to help with emergency responses to a wide variety of incidents, including road and rail crashes, extreme weather or major health crises such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Now talks are proposed with agencies involved in emergency planning to coordinate responses with the Ready for Anything Volunteers and the specialist Major Incident Response Team, MIRT.  

A special event is also being organised to bring groups together at the Emergency Planning College in Easingwold in March. It will involve the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, which is overseen by the council, and organisations ranging from the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance to the emergency services, as well as local volunteer groups involved in responding to incidents.

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North Yorkshire Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les said: "We are very aware of how important the roles of volunteers are in our responses to emergencies.

"They are often the unsung heroes, helping out in the heart of communities that are affected and providing invaluable support to the emergency services. Their work is even more important now as we are seeing a growing number of severe weather events that can affect households and businesses at any time of the year.

"The work to provide an even greater focus on how we respond to emergencies will ensure that the impact of major incidents is lessened as much as possible for communities."

The MIRT launched more than 30 years ago, and is the only dedicated team of its kind in the country with 25 highly-trained volunteers who can be called on to help with major emergencies.

Members were involved in the Great Heck rail disaster near Selby in 2001 when ten people were killed and 80 seriously injured when a Land Rover on the tracks ended up in two trains crashing head-on. They were also involved in major flooding events including when Storm Debi arrived in November and the Marine Residence Hotel fire in Scarborough in July last year.

The team of Ready For Anything volunteers was created in the wake of the widespread flooding during the festive period in 2015 after Storm Eva.

The joint initiative now has 350 volunteers with specialist training.

The authority says the volunteers are crucial as the nation is close to beating its record for the highest number of named storms.

Residents and businesses in North Yorkshire were placed on high alert in January when Storm Isha swept across the country bringing widespread disruption, followed by Storm Jocelyn less than 48 hours later.

North Yorkshire Council’s head of resilience and emergencies, Matt Robinson added: "We already have a countywide team of experienced and skilled volunteers who are available to help with responses to emergencies.

"However, we are seeing more events especially with severe weather that require us to become involved, and we are therefore looking to build on the network that is already available and work even closer with local, regional and national volunteer groups and organisations."

Roger Hartley, a former RAF ground equipment mechanic and mountain rescuer, has been involved with the Scarborough and Ryedale MRT for more than 20 years.

He said: "Volunteering with the SRMRT is extremely satisfying. Everybody does their bit and works together. What we can achieve is amazing and it’s a great feeling to make a difference."

Details of the MIRT and Ready for Anything teams are at