FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1: What is a 4×4 Response Group?
2: Do you get to drive around with blue lights and siren?
3: So it’s really just a glorified taxi or courier service?
4: So why is this necessary, surely this is a job for the Civil Authorities?
5: How does it work?
6: Can the public call you out?
7: Do I need to be available all the time?
8: Social Activities? So it’s not all serious then?
9: So do I need a fully kitted out 4×4?
10: Will it cost me anything?
11: Do you get any funding from government or elsewhere?

Q1: What is a 4×4 Response Group? – Top

A 4×4 response group is a co-ordinated volunteer group of experienced 4×4 owners who offer their time and vehicles to the Emergency Services and Local Authorities in times of need. 4×4 Response Groups now exist all over the United Kingdom, some have existed for several years whereas others like Hertfordshire 4×4 Response are still in the early years. Recent emergencies have shown the need for groups in all areas of the Country and have seen a rapid growth as a result. This may be in times of severe weather (e.g. snow, high winds or flooding), when travelling is made difficult or some other form of emergency during “normal” weather, when access to uneven terrain is required or when access to a well trained and coordinated team of vehicles with passenger and load carrying capability can assist an incident.

Q2: Do you get to drive around with blue lights and siren? – Top

No, a Response Group is not classed as an emergency service; they exist to support the established services only. Typical duties are carrying essential supplies or personnel to hard to reach locations as a result of the conditions. Volunteers work under the direction of a group controller who themselves are directed by the service requesting help. This will usually be the County Council Emergency Planning Unit as they co-ordinate volunteer assistance in these circumstances.

Q3: So it’s really just a glorified taxi or courier service? – Top

That is the view some people have but Response Groups are not there to provide a cheap alternative to these services. However in conditions where these services can no longer operate, a Response Group can take over if they usually provide an essential need. As mundane as the duties may sound, they become vitally important in times of need. In the 2007 floods for instance, several response groups turned out to deliver water supplies, food and hygiene packs to vulnerable groups such as the elderly residents of care homes cut off to normal transport. They could also transport Doctors for the out of hours GP services. All tasks that couldn’t have been done by the Civil Authorities as they often don’t have the necessary vehicles or drivers with experience for the conditions available. It also allows them to concentrate on their primary duties.

Q4: So why is this necessary, surely this is a job for the Civil Authorities? – Top

The simple fact is that emergency services and local authorities no longer maintain 4×4 vehicles “just in case” due to financial constraints. As a result they don’t always have drivers experienced at driving in severe conditions; this is where we come in! Not only do we have the right sort of vehicle but through activities like green laning days, visiting off road play sites or off road competitions and off road training, we have the skills to drive safely in varying conditions.

Q5: How does it work? – Top

The Group would only be called out at the request of the emergency services or appropriate Local Authority (usually the local County Council). The Group’s nominated Controller will co-ordinate and pass this information from the local authorities to the responders. Call out and other instructions are sent via SMS (text messaging).

Q6: Can the public call you out? – Top

Hertfordshire 4×4 Response does not respond to direct calls from members of the public. We are only deployed at the request of Local Authorities, Emergency Services or other Voluntary Agencies. In the event of an emergency, you should still dial 999 and ask for the emergency services to attend.

Q7: Do I need to be available all the time? – Top

Not necessarily, it is recognised that many people work and are not available 24 hours a day. If you are unable to respond at any particular time that is fine, it is after all a voluntary activity. If you genuinely can’t commit but are still interested in supporting the Group you could consider becoming a supporting member and still take part in social activities and fund raising events.

Q8: Social Activities? So it’s not all serious then? – Top

To keep the momentum going between call outs, regular meetings are held, along with training events and other social events. We attend 4×4 shows and exhibitions to promote the group. The Group is registered as part of the National 4×4 Response Network and joint events with other Groups may also be arranged. The group can also be called upon for other activities such as marshalling sports events or assisting Councils to remove abandoned vehicles from inaccessible locations not accessible to recovery HGV’s.

Q9: So I need a fully kitted out 4×4? – Top

All makes of 4×4 are welcome(!) and a perfectly standard model will still have capabilities above a normal car. Passenger carrying ability is important but vehicles like pick ups and Land Rover “hard tops” are not ruled out due to their load carrying and towing capabilities. This capability will be enhanced by a number of items we would expect members to carry in their vehicles; however these are no more than most 4×4 owners might carry on a green lane trip for instance. Further details are provided to prospective members. Our responders come with may different makes of 4×4’s including Toyota, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Land Rover.

Q10: Will it cost me anything? – Top

We have recently reviewed our membership costs for new members which are visible on the ‘Join Us’ page. so Please contact us for more information.

Q11: Do you get any funding from government or elsewhere? – Top

We are a not for profit group and do warmly receive donations from local businesses and individuals who recognise what we do for the local community. If you wish to make a donation, please contact us. No matter how little or large the group relies on funds to equip its members with the correct protective equipment and training.

Question not answered above?

If your question has not been answered above we would really like to hear from you, please do send us your query by using the ‘Contact Us’ form.