A long day at WRAS!

Yesterday was a busy day for everyone at WRAS. My day began at 8 am when I reached work, unlocked the reception trailer, and proceeded to my office to start my tasks. My agenda for the day included handling administrative responsibilities and taking charge of rescue coordination to allow Kristy to focus on donation processing.

WRAS's Orphan Rearing Team was already on-site, feeding the nests of baby birds upstairs, while the Care Team was also arriving to begin their work. Despite being short-staffed, they managed the busy day admirably and did an excellent job.

The day started with calls coming in immediately, including cases involving an injured feral and wood pigeon. During the day, a young hedgehog was rescued from Knockhatch Adventure Park, a gull trapped in guttering in Eastbourne was rescued, and a check on goslings at Decoy Pond Hampden Park was conducted. Rescuers Keith and Tony were busy with rescues in various locations such as Seaford, Haywards Heath, Bexhill, Hastings, Wartling, Uckfield, Hailsham, Polegate, and Hampden Park. They also released casualties in Seaford, Polegate, Hailsham, Uckfield, and Lewes. Casualties were also delivered from Heathfield, Ringmer, Lewes, Hailsham and Gatwick Airport.

Rescuers Greg and Tony worked into the evening, finishing at 10 pm after attending to a road casualty fox in Bexhill, a collapsed fox in Hampden Park, a badly injured fox in Hailsham, and a goose at East Hoathly, among other incidents.

I intended to leave work at 9 pm but had to detour to Hailsham to meet rescuer Tony and collect a young Wood Pigeon so he could rush a second one to the emergency vets. By 9:45 pm, I left WRAS’s Casualty Centre and, arriving home, quickly grabbed a small bite to eat due to the lateness of the hour. Katie was also still trying to leave after a long day too and WRAS's orphan team were still finishing off their late evening duties too.

Kristy and I tried to get to bed by 10:30 pm, but the night was restless as we received multiple calls on the emergency line, some leaving empty messages or details unsuitable for our after-hours service.

Shortly before midnight, Nathan from Seahaven Wildlife Rescue asked for our assistance with a road-injured badger near Chelwood Gate in the north of East Sussex. We hurried to the location, where the badger unfortunately passed away as we tried to rescue it. Upon examination, signs of internal crush injuries were noted. We returned home and finally settled into bed by 1 am.

Twenty minutes later we received an emergency call about a road casualty fox in Worthing. The caller had tried local numbers and the local emergency vets who referred him to their emergency vets in Eastbourne over 30 miles away and he was concerned about transporting the fox in his vehicle. We passed on a couple of phone numbers for him to try but they were unable to attend till the morning.

The caller contacted us back 1:30am unsuccessfully having found any help and was going to give up and just leave the fox alone which he had described as dragging its legs and unable to stand, laying under a car. Knowing that the RSPCA would not be available and local groups are already over stretched already Kristy and I decided to attend as we were already wide awake from the badger rescue and knew the roads would be quiet and attendance wouldn’t take too long.

We arrived on site around 2.20am and used WRAS’s ambulance as a safety barrier to protect the casualty and rescuers. The fox suddenly tried to escape dragging itself and falling around. I was able to grab the fox as it tried to escape through a bush. Kristy moved the rescue cage into position and I was able to pull the young fox back and into the cage to safety. The fox was transported to Priory Emergency Treatment Services at The Deneway in Brighton, where they graciously admitted the fox. This is a primary reason why WRAS is committed to maintaining its evening and night time services, as the cases during these hours are often more critical and require urgent attention to prevent suffering.

East Sussex WRAS usually does not handle rescue calls from outside its area due to limited resources. Responding to such calls can strain the staff, especially those who volunteer during off-hours, leading to exhaustion and burnout. There is an increasing number of night time and out-of-area rescue requests because the RSPCA no longer offers 24-hour rescue services. Many local groups and rescues are too small or overwhelmed during this period to provide assistance around the clock.

Kristy and Trevor returned home around 3:30 am after beginning work at 8 am the day before. They had a brief sleep before heading back to work at 8 am. WRAS team members Katie, Holly, Keith, and Trevor all take turns managing the out-of-hours emergency line. To prevent fatigue and exhaustion, WRAS has restricted the types of incidents that can be addressed during these night hours.

East Sussex WRAS is under growing pressure to respond to rescues in areas farther away than usual due to a decline in wildlife support. More than 40 rescues nationwide have shut down this year already. Your backing for East Sussex WRAS can make a difference in maintaining the service in the region.W

ithout WRAS assistance, this fox would have been left in distress. Please support our Summer Staff Appeal to contribute to these vital rescues. To make a donation, please go to https://wildlifeambulance.org/summer-staff-appeal/

Your support it vital.

Trevor Weeks MBE

Founder & Rescue Co-ordinator

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service.

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