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9 November 2010, 06:00
British Red Cross open control room which is ready 24/7 to respond to disasters
The new facility, John Nike House in Reading - replaces out-of-date facilities, and has been officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra.
The building is the organisation's newest and up-to-date resource - and not only will be home to the latest training facilities for more than 100 staff and volunteers, but also is a regional control room for Berkshire - and when needed - becomes the London and South East co-ordination centre should there be a major incident (terrorist, weather or other natural disaster) in London.
Chief Fundraiser Annie Burton told Heart "The first thing that happens in an emergency is that the plan you already had, ready-to-go.... kind of goes out of the window. The more people you have trained, the more people you have able to respond effectively."
Annie added "We develop expertise by the training we're going to carry out here... we'll be making sure that all our staff and volunteers are well practiced. There is a continual development of their skills to make sure we are all ready 24/7".
British Red Cross Operations Director for the Thames Valley Chris Beck told Heart "We are delighted to be officially opening the centre in Reading. The building is enabling us to extend our services to help more vulnerable people in crisis."
The new facility in Eastern Road, also houses staff who are able to help local people to trace loved ones abroad - like Haiti or Pakistan, when there are disasters overseas.