The word hero can be over-used, however for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s officers, who risk their lives to save others on a daily basis; this title truly stands.
One local firefighter who has attended emergency call-outs throughout the region and is now part of the county’s Technical Rescue Unit and the UK International Search and Rescue Team is Charlotte Eastwell.
28 year old Charlotte joined the fire service in 2008 and has been based at Horley and Crawley fire stations, during this time. In the eight years she has been a firefighter, she has educated community groups about fire safety and has become a specialist technician in rope rescue and swift water rescue, has learnt to operate chainsaws and has even been deployed overseas to help with rescue efforts.
“The role I have is fairly unique within the service as it covers a wide and varied range of skills, predominately supporting the ‘rescue’ element of the service,” Charlotte told us.
“I work as part of a strong and dedicated team of twelve people that cover the whole of West Sussex, providing 24/7 cover for a wide and varied range of incidents.”
These incidents include rescuing victims trapped within collapsed structures and confined spaces and also rescuing animals.
In 2014, Charlotte was deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to assist with the rescue and humanitarian efforts due to the severe flooding in the northern parts of the country – something Charlotte was proud to have been involved in.
“I was incredibly fortunate to be able to put my training to use helping those in need and being able to do that representing the UK as part of its response was a very proud moment,” she says.
When asked what she enjoyed most about her vocation, she told us her main focus was on helping others:
“Helping people and making a difference to someone is obviously the most rewarding part of the job. It is a very good day when you have been able to help someone in whatever form that may be; big or small!” she explains.
“I am also very fortunate to work with a team who are all similarly like-minded, dedicated and enthusiastic in our approach to every incident we attend and who make the day to day work enjoyable and constantly varied with the large amount of training that we have to do to maintain our skills.”
Charlotte doesn’t just undertake training at work, she’s currently training for her first Brighton marathon, on her 29th birthday on Sunday 17th April – good luck!
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are always looking for new members to join them.
For further information visit: www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-rescue-service.