Staff from West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have joined the fight against the pandemic by volunteering with St John Ambulance to help deliver the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Some 140 volunteers from WMFS had their first training over the weekend (23-24 Jan), and will soon be joining vaccination teams at Birmingham’s Millennium Point and Bromsgrove’s Artrix Centre.
It comes after fire and rescue services nationwide redoubled their efforts to help protect their communities. The National Fire Chiefs Council said the sector stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with colleagues in the health and care sector in the fight against COVID-19.
Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “We are both proud and excited to be piloting fire and rescue services’ involvement in St John Ambulance’s delivery of the NHS vaccination programme.
“This is the latest example of how our staff have proved they are ready, willing and able to help our communities find a way out of this dreadful pandemic. Yet again, they will be making a real and meaningful difference.
“Supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff has been in even sharper focus since the start of the pandemic, so they can continue to deliver our critical services and protect the most vulnerable in the West Midlands.
“We have also been determined to play whatever part we can in working with our partners to support our communities and limit the spread of COVID-19. This has included the delivery of more than 7,000 food and medical parcels to vulnerable residents, inter-agency support with the fitting of face masks and, very sadly, the movement of the bodies of some virus victims.
“Colleagues who have already volunteered to support the vaccination programme typify the spirit I have seen time and time again throughout our service during this immensely challenging period.”
The charity will train WMFS personnel to become St John volunteer vaccinators, care volunteers and patient advocates. The NHS-approved training will be a blend of online and COVID-secure face-to-face sessions. A further 100 WMFS staff are due to join the programme this week.
St John Ambulance Chief Operating Officer Richard Lee said: “We’re absolutely delighted and very grateful to have our fire service colleagues joining us on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
“We’re currently in the process of training up tens of thousands of vaccination volunteers and many have already started delivering the vaccine as well as supporting people both immediately before and after they receive it.
“This is the biggest challenge we’ve ever undertaken in peacetime and we’re rising to it with the support of so many partner organisations which are stepping up to the plate as we join in this collective effort to help get the nation back on its feet.”
Councillor Greg Brackenridge, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “It is fantastic that West Midlands Fire Service is ready to support the NHS St John Ambulance in this way. The authority is extremely proud of the outstanding service and selflessness demonstrated by WMFS staff throughout the pandemic. This is the latest in a number of additional activities they have undertaken, which help to bring hope and reassurance to so many people in our communities.”