MOST people stayed at home on Thursday as The Beast from the East continued to cause havoc throughout the region.

But for the emergency services that simply was not an option as they continued to battle through snow and gale-force winds to make it into work.

Some even got stuck at work, with NHS staff sleeping in the wards to make sure their patients were kept safe, which caused a flurry of supportive messages from the public.

Staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital were among those praised for their dedication.

Heroic efforts were also demonstrated by the public who turned up in 4x4s to pick up staff and make sure they got to work in one piece.

Paediatric staff nurse, Lisa Gerrett, was one such staff member who put her patients first.

The 38-year-old said: “I was meant to be in on Wednesday but the seven-minute journey took me three-and-a-half hours so they said to turn back because the ward was staffed.

“So when I got home I put an appeal on Facebook for transport on Thursday and the guys from North East Access picked me and three other nurses up in a 4x4 – they are heroes.”

The mother-of-four also stayed overnight, along with ward sister June Innes, so they did not risk getting stuck for their shift on Friday.

She said: “I feel okay and I would far rather be staying here than not being able to get back.

“One of our nurses, Jacqueline Geeringh, stayed over on Wednesday night and then went straight into another shift.”

Talking about the messages of support from the public, Mrs Gerrett, said: “It does make it feel worthwhile because the NHS can get slated, so it’s really appreciated. It just comes naturally to us to pack a night bag when it gets bad.

“I miss my kids – my youngest is just 18 months – but I just think the fact that the public appreciate it is enough for us.”

When a spokesman for the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust posted a message about its staff and asked for the public to thank them, more than 20,000 people “liked” it.

And the page was flooded with messages of gratitude. One person wrote: “What dedication! The NHS wouldn’t run without people like you all.”

The trust’s Facebook post showed beds made up for staff, with toiletries ready for them.

Carol Harries, Deputy Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “A massive thank you to staff at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust who, despite the freezing conditions, have gone above and beyond to ensure that there is minimal disruption to patient care and that we are able to continue to treat those who need it the most.

“Some staff on night shift have worked longer hours to allow colleagues more time to travel in safely.

“The trust is also supporting those who live in some of the more adversely affected areas, by using 4x4 vehicles to collect staff who are unable to access transport and offering overnight accommodation to key clinical staff who would otherwise struggle to get home.”