Snow update 12.30pm: Ambulance staff praised after motorists stranded

PUBLISHED: 12:26 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:27 10 June 2010

SOUTH Western Ambulance Service staff have been praised after helping rescue hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars after heavy snowfall in Devon overnight.

SOUTH Western Ambulance Service staff have been praised after helping rescue hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars after heavy snowfall in Devon overnight.

Ambulance staff joined colleagues from other agencies in providing support to motorists in the makeshift rescue centres, many suffering from cold and shock.

More than 200 drivers were left stranded last night on the A38 south of Exeter after a freak blizzard saw traffic grind to a halt after 9pm last night.

Many drivers suffered an uncomfortable night in their vehicles or sought shelter under the canopy of a nearby Shell filling station which was closed.

Staff in the two control centres in St Leonards, Dorset and Exeter, Devon continue to work around the clock taking hundreds of emergency calls and helping to keep many panicking callers calm.

The four air ambulances throughout the region are also providing a great service reaching many patients much quicker than would be possible by road.

Ambulance crews, some using 4 x 4 vehicles, struggled to reach patients in some areas practically cut off by the snow but continue to provide as normal a service as possible under the circumstances.

Many crews have also battled to get into work despite road closures and other weather related issues.

Trust's chief executive Ken Wenman said: "I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all staff, who continue to provide an excellent service in light of these challenging and hazardous weather conditions. Countless businesses across the four counties have also provided a great deal of support to us, which is fantastic.

"The overnight rescue effort in Devon combined emergency services and countless other agencies and businesses. Everyone did a remarkable job in maintaining the health and safety of those trapped and it is amazing that no-one was more seriously injured.

"This week each of the four counties we cover has experienced numerous difficulties and challenges as a result of the dangerous road conditions and I am proud to work with such committed, dedicated staff. Many of whom are clearly working above and beyond the call of duty to care for those most in need.

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