London

London Ambulances' Australia fire appeal raises £7,000

Firemen prepare as a bushfire approaches homes on the outskirts of the town of Bargo on December 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fire crews are battling to protect homes in the path of the fires

London's Ambulance Service (LAS) has raised nearly £7,000 to help in the Australian bushfire relief effort.

The funds are going to the Australian Red Cross, which has deployed staff and volunteers to disaster-affected communities.

A quarter of London's paramedics come from Australia, following a targeted recruitment campaign.

Khadir Meer, chief operating officer at LAS said: "We stand by our Australian emergency service colleagues."

Image caption Keiren Rodwell said it was "wonderful" that the London Ambulance Service had launched its appeal

Keiren Rodwell, 23, a London paramedic from New South Wales, lost his two cousins in the fires at the end of last year.

They died protecting their family from the fires. The family's livelihood in the timber industry is also now under threat.

Mr Rodwell said: "It's so horrible for everyone that's involved.

"But it is so wonderful that the London Ambulance Service has got behind this, and they've shown support to us here in London.

"For me, personally, I'm so grateful for that Londoners are thinking of the Australian community."

The service first began a recruitment campaign to attract Australian paramedics in 2014.

A shortage of paramedics led the service to look to Australia, where the skills and training closely match those in the UK.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bushfires are still burning in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria

Bushfires are still burning in South Australia, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.

At least 27 people have died. According to NSW Rural Fire Service, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed so far during this fire season.

Fires have merged to create a mega-blaze, covering more than 640,000 hectares of land.

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