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Fire service offers support for vaccination rollout

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations begins around the country, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) continues to offer support to the health sector during the pandemic.

Having already seen staff from various parts of the Service helping with training new ambulance drivers, supporting the community hubs and working as ambulance drivers, CFRS is now offering its support with the vaccination programme.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “The pandemic has been such a challenging time for everyone, across the country and the rest of the world. From the very start we have been seeing where we can provide help and ensure we are there for our communities, in particular those most vulnerable residents.

“With vaccination centres now being set up across the country, we want to ensure we are standing with the NHS to help protect as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. We have already asked our staff if they would be interested in supporting the rollout and are working with our partners to see how we can assist. This could range from our premises potentially being used as venues - we already do this successfully with NHS Blood and Transplant – to our staff assisting with giving the vaccinations. Another thing we are exploring is our staff helping to set up and run vaccination centres.”

This week the National Fire Chiefs Council released a range of updated risk assessments allowing fire service staff to continue work on COVID-19 related activities, while also taking on more and different responsibilities. To support this 10,000 lateral flow tests a week will be provided by the government to fire services, meaning up to 5,000 firefighters could soon be supporting the UK-wide vaccination programme now underway. These tests will help keep firefighters who are undertaking vital COVID work safer – and is in line with other emergency services testing procedures.

Newly updated risk assessments include support to the ambulance service including driving ambulances, community vaccination work, delivering PPE, transferring COVID patients, providing training on infection, protection and control, non-blue light driver training, and the movement of bodies.

Chief Fire Officer Strickland added: “Having these risk assessments in place is very important to ensure that we are offering staff the right protection if we are carrying out these new duties. Our staff are at the heart of everything that we do and we wouldn’t put them at any unnecessary risk.

“This is a time of national crisis and we are there to help in the fight against COVID-19. We’ve already faced significant challenges over the last year, but we have continued to support our communities while also keeping our staff safe. We aim to carry this on and assist the government and the NHS with the vaccination programme where that help would be welcome.”