East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is a front line rescue service to help people who find sick, injured and orphaned wildlife across East Sussex.
The first group was formed in 1996. Up until then Trevor Weeks, one of the founding members of East Sussex WRAS, was paying for veterinary bills and expenses out of his own pocket since 1985. As he became better known, the number of calls became greater and the cost of his rescue work grew.
In a need for better funding and help to cover rescues and so tired from being on call responding 24 hours a day, East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was started. It was not until 2005 that East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) was formed with its first group of trustees and directors as a registered charity.
WRAS covers a large area and works with 11 different veterinary practices. One of WRAS’s main concerns about veterinary practices is the stress levels of wildlife whilst they are admitted. Dogs, cats and parrots to name a few of the animals which can cause noise as well as humans activity which causes stress to wildlife casualties which are trying to rest, relax and recover from their injuries or illness. However this recovery will be slow in such stressful environments. To counter this stress WRAS has set up a Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith on the A22 between Hailsham and Uckfield.
The Centre is capable of taking in up to 125 casualties at a time depending on the range of species in care at the time. The Hospital has a treatment room, three hospital rooms, an indoor room divided into for indoor pens and aviaries, a prep room, volunteer rest area, store and cold room for acclimatising animals like hedgehogs before moving them outside.
Every year WRAS receives between 2-3,000 calls for help. Some of these are purely advisory calls, others need the response on site of one of our ambulances. On site WRAS’s rescuers provide vital first aid to casualties starting the care right at the beginning at the rescue location.
WRAS has four veterinary ambulances. These vehicles move around but are normally based at either at Whitesmith, Uckfield, Polegate or Stone Cross. At night time at least two of these vans are available at any one time. The ambulances carry a variety of equipment, from ladders, various nets, stretchers, first aid kits, dog graspers, swan hooks, and much more.
WRAS ambulances have been involved in numerous rescues including helping to deal with a seal trapped in a nuclear power station, an albino deer with its antlers caught in a rope swing, a badger stuck in a disused swimming pool, a fox trapped in a drain, a bird caught up on a chimney, birds flying round inside a house, run over hedgehogs and much more. Trevor Weeks was recognised for his work helping wildlife in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2012, when he was awarded the MBE. The work undertaken by WRAS has also been recognised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Action Awards 2010, the BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Community Heroes Animal Welfare Award 2012 and the British Animal Honours Awards 2013.
On average it costs WRAS £75 to be on call for and respond to a call-out. The vans, the mobile phones, veterinary bills, equipment stored in the vans etc are expensive and need replacing on a regular basis. WRAS has a number of pens and aviaries used for a wide variety of wildlife.