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Fire and Rescue Services administer 27,000-plus COVID vaccinations

22 February 2021

UPWARDS OF 27,000 vaccinations have been given to the public by Fire and Rescue Service staff following a drive to assist with the national programme. This equates to firefighters and other Fire and Rescue Service staff administering approximately one in every 600 immunisations out of the 16.5 million given to date.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has been swift to praise this incredible work as fire service colleagues are administering vaccinations and carrying out other tasks to assist with the COVID-19 response alongside their usual emergency response duties.

Around 70% – or 35 – of UK Fire and Rescue Services are now assisting with the vaccination drive and fully-trained staff from Fire and Rescue Services are actively giving the vaccinations. More than 6,000 hours of support has been given. In total, there are 450 staff acting as vaccinators. Some Fire and Rescue Services have support staff dedicated to the role full-time. Additional efforts to support the vaccination drive include logistical support, patient care and assisting on site at vaccination and COVID-19 Test Centres.

Staff from the Shropshire, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Lancashire, Tyne & Wear and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services are all currently administering vaccinations with more set to undertake this vital work.

Ready and willing to assist

Roy Wilsher, chair of the NFCC, said: “To see the sheer number of vaccinations and support being given by Fire and Rescue Service staff is amazing. We’ve witnessed Fire and Rescue Services working tirelessly to set up vaccination sites, assisting with patient care and also administering the vaccines. This doesn’t take into account other work such as Fire and Rescue Services helping to deliver and carry out tests in areas where new COVID strains were discovered such as Surrey and Hertfordshire.”

Firefighters and other Fire and Rescue Service staff continue to crew ambulances, deliver PPE and assist with delivering various items to vulnerable people across local communities.

Wilsher continued: “Once again, it’s evident that Fire and Rescue Service staff are ready, willing and able to assist where their help is needed. The selfless dedication and determination being shown by everyone involved is second to none, and I’m in no doubt that members of the public are proud of their Fire and Rescue Services as they once again step up to play their part. All of this additional effort is occurring at a time when workplace absence numbers among firefighters are incredibly low.”

Volunteering to the fore

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service is working alongside its partners to ensure thousands of people are receiving their vaccinations, offering assistance at sites having already helped in administering over 50,000 vaccinations to those who need them the most. More than 220 staff have volunteered to take part in this process.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Servi has been assisting vaccination centres across the county and duly administered over 10,000 vaccinations, while at the same time continuing to support local communities and partners through medical deliveries and befriending calls.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has redeployed nearly 200 staff to help roll-out the COVID-19 vaccine consisting of both operational and support team members. This includes training 34 staff as new vaccinators, providing mental health support to front line workers, helping to co-ordinate teams on site, providing medical assistance and implementing traffic management plans.

A total of 60 personnel from across the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services have so far been trained to become vaccinators, while ten firefighters from Hampshire have also joined doctors and nurses to help treat patients with COVID-19.

Nightingale Hospital support

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has dedicated more than 1,100 hours of support and 57 staff to help underpin the vaccination programme at Newcastle Racecourse and the Nightingale Hospital in Washington. This ranges from the team members giving vaccinations, managing all non-clinical aspects of the centre, playing a critical role in executive decision-making and moving patients through the vaccination pods through to resource management, volunteer briefing and making welfare arrangements.

More than 150 members of staff have been trained to assist in both Merseyside and the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Services. They’re also carrying out work such as administration support and delivering the vaccinations as the programme gathers pace across the country.

Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh has added his support by stating: “Our Fire and Rescue Service volunteers have made an extraordinary contribution in helping to administer the vaccine for so many people, in turn saving many more. I want to thank them for their efforts. Their time and commitment in assisting with the roll-out of the vaccination programme has directly supported the NHS to save lives and protect their local communities. I know that our Fire and Rescue Services will continue to do all they can to protect the British public.”

Additional figures from the NFCC show that, since 25 January, more than 15,000 lateral flow tests have been given to staff, which represents around 30% of the total Fire and Rescue Service workforce.

Provided through local arrangements and with added provision from the Department of Health and Social Care, the tests are distributed via the NFCC’s National Resilience function, thereby enhancing the ‘health surveillance’ of Fire and Rescue Service staff and preventing asymptomatic transmission, while also further enabling them to continue important COVID-related work.