Seventeen newly-recruited British Red Cross community reserve volunteers proved that anyone can help in a crisis after taking part in an emergency simulation exercise in Portreath.

The simulation, organised by the Red Cross in partnership with Aviva and Cornwall Council, tested how a community reserve volunteer taskforce would be deployed should a major crisis happen in the county.

The Red Cross has launched a campaign to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers across the UK by 2019, who can be called upon if an emergency happens in their community.

The volunteers, who don’t need any specialist skills or training, would only be called on if a disaster hit their community. When asked to respond, they would complete simple tasks like filling sandbags or sorting donations – small actions that would make a big difference to help the community get back on its feet quickly.

Last week, the community reserve volunteers worked alongside the local authority, Portreath flood wardens and specialist Red Cross emergency response volunteers to respond to a simulated flooding incident.

The volunteers were taught how to correctly fill sandbags and build a flood defence. They were also tasked with sorting through bags of clothing donations left in the Millienium Hall for those affected by the ‘flood’.

Paul Tonkin, 72 from Illogan, who recently signed up as a community reserve volunteer, took part in the event.

“We’ve seen flooding here in Portreath a number of times," he said. "Most recently, back in January when part of the sea wall was washed down during the storm. Flooding can have a big impact on people’s lives – especially those who are particularly vulnerable to having their homes damaged.

“The Portreath exercise was really good and very informative. It was useful to know what sort of tasks a volunteer might be asked to do if called to help during an emergency.

“I know from my previous life in the army the importance of being prepared. If an emergency does happen, I’ll be ready to help out wherever needed.”

Andy Gill, senior emergency response officer at the Red Cross, said: “When a crisis hits we often see extraordinary levels of compassion shown by local communities who naturally want to help, but don’t always know how they can.

“This simulation exercise really helped us test the level of response from our community reserve volunteers and assess the practical tasks they might be asked to do in a real emergency. Community reserve volunteers may only be called upon once or twice a year, but their help can be vital and exercises like this helps us ensure we are ready to respond quickly to an emergency situation.

“We know that you don’t need special skills to help others. Small acts of kindness and coming together as a team can make a huge difference which is why we’re encouraging everyone to become a community reserve volunteer for the British Red Cross.”

To sign up visit Volunteers must be over 18, have a mobile phone and be prepared to carry out practical tasks during an emergency.