‘4x4 angel’ Andy tells town council how he drove more than 300 miles and rescued 20 nurses during Exmouth snow chaos

PUBLISHED: 12:04 11 April 2018

Andy Fairbanks outside the RD&E entrance. Ref exe 10 18TI 8857. Picture: Terry Ife

Andy Fairbanks outside the RD&E entrance. Ref exe 10 18TI 8857. Picture: Terry Ife

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Civic leaders are to explore creating an emergency contingency plan for Exmouth when wild weather strikes - after being inspired by the efforts of ‘4x4 angels’ during freak snow last month.

On two separate occasions in the space of a fortnight, the town was hit by blizzard conditions, bringing the transport infrastructure to a standstill.

This prompted kind-hearted 4x4 owners from Exmouth to rescue those who were left marooned in their vehicles and to get emergency staff and patients to and from Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

At a meeting of the town council, one of the ‘4x4 Angels’, Andy Fairbanks, told members of the lack of ‘joined-up thinking’ in these types of situations.

He said: “The thing that really shone out was how parts of Devon just couldn’t cope.

“Despite the Met Office warnings, the public are so curious they are going to come out anyway.

“Once the A376 was blocked that was it, no-one was getting in or out of Exmouth.

“What do we do as a town? Exmouth was one of the worst hit out of all the villages and towns in East Devon.”

Using social media, a group of drivers, including Andy, coordinated a community response to those who had got stuck in the snow, medical professionals having trouble getting to work and patients who need to get to vital appointments.

Andy told councillors he drove more than 300 miles over two days during the snow storm, rescuing 20 nurses and ‘three or four’ surgeons.

“The first night it was all about recovering people and getting them home, the second day was getting emergency services into work,” added Andy.

He also told councillors how he managed to get up to Brixington to pick up a woman with a broken arm

He said: “Even with snow chains on their ambulances, they wouldn’t have got up Churchill Road.”

Town councillors voted in favour of setting up a working party to look at forming a plan for freak weather incidents like snow and flooding.

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