Rescue Centre Updates
Phil Sparks is Team Leader of Exmoor Search and Rescue Team and over the coming months will be providing updates on the ongoing work to convert an empty industrial unit into a fully working and operational Rescue Centre, ready for the grand public opening in May.
Read about the decisions that are made and the difficult decisions that lay ahead. Kitting out an empty building to become a fully operational base at very low cost will be a huge challenge.
Work has been carrying on at a pace at the Rescue Centre with carpet fitted in both the classroom and meeting room. All the upstairs windows have also been fitted, making it much warmer for those winter meetings. This was just in time for our first external course being run at the Rescue Centre - Mountain First Aid for nine of our team members and trainees.
The railings for the stairs have been started and the equipment store completed, so all medical spares are in their proper place. Finally, the vehicle bay is now proudly sporting the team logo on the wall. It's been good to start doing some of the finer touches to start making the place our own.
October and November 2010
As Graham’s wife Pat had been missing him so much, she decided to join him. The result being that the classroom jointing, filling and painting has been completed. So the exciting news is that the carpet will be fitted at the end of the month. Graham has also been busy putting up shelves in the storeroom which enabled many team members to spend a whole Saturday cleaning, painting and moving equipment. All the equipment was moved from the vehicle bay into its permanent home. This has made a tremendous difference to the appearance of the building, and has really made it to a truly operational state.
Our Wednesday training evening this month was spent showing all the Team the whereabouts of kit and equipment and essential information like where the water stop tap is and the button to silence the Fire alarm when someone burns the toast.
August and September 2010
Things seemed to slow down for a while. A couple of painting days saw everything painted that could be and then we had to wait for the builder to finish the walls and put the doors in. Now that is done the place is starting to look like home – only a little dusty! The electricians can now come back and finish their bits.
Jez is doing the plumbing – but being a plumber by trade he is in great demand for his skills by people who will pay him. No such worries with Graham, another team member who is doing the carpentry and tiling – he’s retired, but it has been reported that his wife has been missing him.
The store room will be ready this week, so we can move a lot of equipment out of the vehicle bay. We have been using the classroom and every month we have an indoor meeting it gets a little nearer completion. This month we will have a sink to wash the tea cups up in. We then have to decide on the colour of the carpet. It’s a long slow job but we are slowly getting there.
June and July 2010
The builders have completed the walls and plastered the ceilings and the electrician has put the lights up downstairs – so it is almost down to the jobs we can do ourselves. Filling the joints and screw holes on the walls with filler provided a surprise, when the filler was found to be orange – literally it smells of oranges.
A big step forward – no pun intended – was the installation of the metal staircase courtesy of Michael Thorne Construction. Now we can get safe access to the first floor, we can have a go at completing the classroom area which is our next priority. Once again the much discussed topic of the colour of the carpet has been raised, however the donation of the new kitchen units by Omega PLC has restricted the choice, I am glad to say.
George, husband of team member Sam, put the kitchen units together the other weekend and Jez, one of the trainees, was let off training this weekend so that he could start the plumbing.
Andy has got the builders in, so things have moved on - the joists and upstairs floor are now fitted and the electrician has fitted the lights. The buiding now really does resemble a building site, shrewn with our rescue kit and building materials.
We recently held an induction night for prospective team members amongst this chaos. An unusual test this time around was to see who helped unload a van full of donated materials. Luckily they all helped!
Next week the builders will be back again to build the internal walls, so then we can start to utilise our team members to do some more shifting, moving and painting.
Michael Thorne Construction (MTC) came to fit the steelwork that will hold the first floor up. Many thanks to MTC for providing the steel and labour completely free of charge. It is amazing how this changes the perspective of the whole building and it is now easier to imagine how it may look.
This also gave me and Andy the chance to measure the requirements of the 1st floor joists and discuss the next stages of construction. For cost reasons, we would like to fit the joists ourselves – but unfortunately we have not got the time – so Andy will have to source a tradesman. Our aim is now to get the upstairs training room operational.
At the end of the month we left our unit in Barnstaple and now have all the kit and Ambulances in the new centre – all be it with temporary lighting.
One day I get a call from Andy – he is outside the unit with a car load of donated lighting – and a friendly electrician to fit them, so hopefully next time I visit we will have lights and electrical circuits to allow us to charge all the torches and radio batteries.
Things seem to be moving slowly – but so far I am also grateful that our Bank balance has moved slowly as well!
We took possession of our new Rescue Centre building before Christmas, but as it is with property you are always afraid to do too much work before the paperwork is signed. So as soon as everything was completed, the Executive Committee asked Andy and me to oversee the development of the empty shell into a rescue centre and training base.
The first job was to establish what all the team members wanted from the building, so a questionnaire was sent out, which also asked for a priority to be given to various suggestions, eg. Kit drying room, Medical Storage etc. Apart from the suggestions for a skittle alley and bar, most ideas and suggestions have been incorporated into the final plan. Quite a lot of measuring and drawing sessions later, Andy was able to give our ideas to TWP Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers in Exeter, who have kindly drawn and submitted the plans to Building Control without charge to the team.
Naturally we are very keen to keep all expenses to a minimum. For my job, I am a Branch manager for Bradfords Building Supplies, who over the years have been very supportive of my involvement in the Team and will supply materials at below markets rates. However the best price for us is zero so I have been approaching manufacturers of some key materials directly. We are keen to use building methods that unskilled labour can utilise, and of course in this instance unskilled labour equals team members.
Andy is Works Manager for Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton, so is very practically minded and able to source much of the skilled help we require. Therefore both Andy and I have now been given the new titles of Procurement Officers!
We are now awaiting the final drawings and Building Control paperwork, before we can start work.
Saturday 27th March
It is exactly ten years since we moved into our Barnstaple Rescue Centre, but on Saturday we started the normally stressful experience of moving house. However a four-hour blitz saw us move all non-essential kit and equipment to South Molton and the even less essential to the local tip. In order to leave this building in good order, we have allowed ourselves some time to fill the holes and paint the walls. To save rent, we will move into our new Centre whilst the building works goes on...