Food and help is continuing to be delivered to drivers caught up in Operation Stack and Kent’s emergency and health services are reminding motorists of basic safety advice before they set out on their journeys.
Following consultation with partner agencies, Kent Police has implemented phase 4 of Op Stack which will run between junctions 8 and 11coastbound. It is effectively an extension of phase 2.
Phase 3 remains in place, with lorries queued up between junctions 8 and 9 Londonbound. There is heavy congestion on surrounding roads and non-freight traffic is advised to avoid the M20 and find alternative routes.
Highways England is advising anyone intending to travel across the Channel to check the latest traffic conditions and advice from their operator before setting out. They also expect that all main routes leading to the coast are likely to be much busier than normal and severe disruption is likely.
Kent County Council, with the help of partner agencies, have now delivered more than 13,000 bottles of water and 6,000 meals to lorry drivers caught up in Operation Stack. Another 5,000 bottles and 500 meals are due to be handed out this morning.
While KCC staff led the collection of provisions, Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service, with support of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, have been distributing them along the closed stretch of M20. This has been supported by help from KCC Community Wardens, the Red Cross, the Kent Voluntary Service in manning welfare points and providing refreshments to drivers in locations off the motorway. Anyone with offers to help to contact us on 01622 212409 so this can be properly managed.
Freight drivers entering Stack will not immediately need any welfare provided, depending on weather conditions and they are urged to ensure they are properly self-equipped with food and water.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) have a dedicated crew of firefighters and a fire engine on the M20 within Operation Stack. The firefighters are providing a range of services such as first aid including provision of a defibrillator, health and safety, and fast emergency response should any incidents occur including engine fires etc. For example on Wednesday they were asked to assist with a lorry driver with a suspected heart attack, though thankfully it was a false alarm.
There has been some impact on William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Buckland Hospital in Dover with both staff and patients experiencing some problems getting to and from the hospital yesterday. All services are operating as normal, and patients who have an appointment have been advised to allow plenty of extra time to get to their appointment.
To avoid lengthy journeys and waiting times, NHS England are urging people to consider which is the most appropriate place to go to get help for their health needs.
People should call NHS 111 if they need medical help, but it’s not a life-threatening emergency. For less urgent health needs, they should contact their GP or local pharmacist in the usual way. For immediate, life-threatening emergencies they should always call 999. To find your nearest health service and to check your symptoms visit the NHS Choices website.
Public Health England is advising motorists to consider the following safety advice:
- If possible carry a cold box with plenty of water and drink plenty of cold fluids to ensure everyone remains hydrated.
- Avoid tea or coffee and alcohol.
- Keep your vehicle ventilated to avoid drowsiness.
- Make sure that babies, children, elderly people or animals are not left alone in stationary cars.
- To cool down sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
- Be alert and call the health services if someone is unwell or further help is needed.
- Danger symptoms to watch out for in hot weather include: feeling faint and dizzy, shortness of breath, vomiting or increasing confusion.
- Check the weather forecast and any high temperature health warnings at: www.metoffice.gov.uk
For further information on staying safe in hot weather visit www.kent.gov.uk/heatwave