Volunteers work tirelessly to provide support on north-east roads
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A voluntary group that provides support to the Grampian area has seen one of its busiest times.
Community Off-road Transport Action Group (COTAG) 4x4 Response is an organisation based in the north-east of Scotland, which specialises in providing 4x4 vehicle assistance to the NHS, police, local authorities and the public during times of need.
The pandemic, a gas outage in the Keith and Huntly areas and the recent heavy snowfall have seen volunteers work tirelessly over the past few weeks.
Group chairman Les Forbes said: "We have been extremely busy since the winter weather took a turn for the worse.
"Our typical tasks are ensuring Covid-19 vaccine supplies are delivered to rural vaccination centres along with the NHS staff required to operate the centres.
"We provide 4x4 transport for health care workers, ensuring that they can maintain care for those vulnerable members of the community who live in the remote areas of Aberdeenshire and Moray.
"We are also transporting key NHS personnel to and from both Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin."
The group also provides support to Police Scotland with weather related rural activities and aiding with road condition reporting.
COTAG volunteers provide support for members of the public who find themselves in difficulty on snowbound roads, which affected large areas of the north-east last weekend.
Along with the Red Cross, the team was recently asked to support SGN during a major gas outage, affecting the Keith and Huntly areas.
A 10-strong team worked late into the night to deliver heaters and electric hotplates to residents, ensuring a degree of comfort to those without gas supplies.
Mr Forbes added: "I am extremely proud of the professionalism and dedication shown by all our members. Their selfless drive, to support their local community, is to be commended."
COTAG was founded in 2004 and is a registered charity consisting of approximately 20 unpaid members.
The volunteers are trained in off-road driving; first aid; VHF radio operation and all operational personnel are qualified IAM advanced drivers.
Monthly training sessions are held at its dedicated 350 acre off-road training site, to ensure that their skills are kept up to a high standard.
All vehicles used are the property of the volunteers, with the group providing PPE and additional necessary equipment.
The organisation is funded by donation and several local businesses have provided financial support for it in the past.
Mr Forbes said: "The team are hopeful that this support will continue into the future."
For details on how to support the group visit www.cotag.net or its social media pages by searching for COTAG 4x4 Response.