Unsung heroes

In every story, there are unsung heroes. Perhaps in the story of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, these are the First Response Team. The men who can be called on at any time of day or night to collect a deceased loved one, often at the site where the death has taken place, with as much dignity, care, and compassion as possible, and bring them into our care. They work with the Coroner, our customers, local care homes, hospitals, and colleagues from other Funeral Directors to ensure that the deceased are properly cared for as they are transported to the places they need to be.

During the Covid pandemic, when there was still little information about the transmission of the disease, our teams coped with the stress brilliantly and simply carried on doing their job as best as they could. Often encumbered by PPE (personal protective equipment), unable to offer comfort without a mask, they still managed to protect the dignity of the deceased and make the bereaved feel cared for. We are so proud of all of them.

As they quietly go about their business, our first responders do an amazing job. They’re dedicated, loyal, and full of compassion. Their work is natural, necessary, and immensely practical, as well as physically demanding and mentally challenging. But time and again, our clients tell us about how kind and helpful the First Response Team have been.

Trained and prepared

Each First Response Team is made up of 2 people, one of whom is the ‘principal’. They have a fully equipped vehicle with everything they might need to do their job professionally. Every member is properly trained to work in every situation and follow our processes. These are put in place to accomplish the task with as little disturbance as possible, leaving the site in a clean and tidy manner. The principal responder undergoes further training, which can take up to six months.

From first call

For many bereaved families, the first contact they have with us is on our 24-hour hotline. They speak to a person who takes as much information as possible before dispatching a First Response Team from our support centre in Colchester. The team will, if at all possible, attend the site within the hour, and the family will be told when to expect them.

When they arrive, the team are dressed formally, and the principal will meet whoever is on site. Whatever the circumstances (and they’re not always easy) the team acts with complete professionalism. They will take the time to put everyone at their ease before making a risk assessment and carrying out their work.

Our First Response Teams are well-known for their warmth, compassion, and confidence, as well as their professionalism. They make it very clear that the deceased is in the best possible hands and will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect at every step.

Working together

Our teams know that they are often guests in people’s homes, so they work quietly and allow the family to be as involved, or not, as they would like.

The deceased is removed from the situation and identification bracelets placed on them. The First Response Team are trained and experienced enough to handle any circumstances they might face when moving a deceased, including narrow stairs, doors, and very old houses. The deceased is then taken to the vehicle, placed inside, and the doors are closed with a respectful bow, no matter the time of day or night.

If there is a bed, the team will always make it and leave a rose and card in the place of the deceased. This is very important to us, because it acknowledges the gravity of the situation and expresses our desire for comfort to be left in place of loss.

Before they leave, the principal has a conversation with the family and gives them an information pack containing simple instructions about the next steps they need to take and where their loved one will be looked after.

Support centre

When the First Response Team have returned to the support centre, the deceased is registered in the mortuary, placed onto a special unit, covered with a white sheet, before a fresh rose is placed on their chest. The deceased is now under the care of the Support Centre Manager and their team.

Please ask

If you have any questions about the First Response Team, or our processes, please talk to your local funeral arranger.