A major incident has been declared in the Avon and Somerset area following severe weather across the region.
The declaration was requested by the Somerset Partnership NHS Trust, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Musgrove Park Hospital and supported by South Western Ambulance Service, over concerns essential staff were unable to get to their place of work due to the snow.
Ch Supt Ian Wylie said: “A multi-agency response is now under way. We have well-rehearsed plans to deal with severe weather events and will do everything we can to keep people safe.”
“We’ve experienced extreme weather conditions over the past few hours and there are continuing RED and AMBER Met Office weather warnings which will pose further challenges ahead.
“We expect the disruptive snowfall and icy conditions to continue overnight and we’re urging people to cancel their travel plans tomorrow morning and stay off the roads for all but essential travel.
“At the moment, we’re co-ordinating a rescue operation to help people stranded in their vehicles in multiple locations across Somerset, including around 100 vehicles stuck in snow on the A303 at Ilminster.
“This operation is being supported by a number of volunteers and voluntary agencies, including Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue, Exmoor Search and Rescue, Burnham Area Rescue Boat (which has 4×4 vehicles) and Wessex 4×4 Response, along with other emergency services and Her Majesty’s Coastguard.
“If you are stranded, please stay in your vehicle, call for assistance and wait for help to arrive. Don’t abandon your vehicle as it can hamper the efforts of emergency services.”
“Severe weather warnings have been issued and our message to people affected by the significant snowfall is please stay at home and don’t travel.”
“The Met Office has issued a RED warning for wind and snow for parts of Somerset – including a stretch of the M5 motorway between Taunton and Exeter – and AMBER warnings for wind and snow for other parts of our Force area.”