'Thank you': Fire services applaud volunteers for pandemic efforts
Around 150 service volunteers, including senior officers, firefighters, call handlers and support staff have given more than 4,400 hours at sites around the county.
This included helping to set up mass vaccination centres, assisting with patients and marshalling in car parks. Some have also been trained to administer vaccines by The British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance.
Area Commander Wayne Swales, the officer coordinating the support project, said: “We’re really proud of the fantastic support our staff have given to the vaccination rollout.
"We were committed from the start to ensure we assisted our NHS partners, however they needed us.
“We’ve been asked to provide help in various ways. For example early on our volunteers assisted at some of the primary care network sites with things like marshalling in the car parks and showing patients where they need to go.
"Back in February the weather presented us with a few challenges, mainly the cold, but our staff still turned up to pitch in and lend a hand, with gloves on.
“When more sites were needed, groups of staff volunteers helped to setup large-scale vaccination centres in Cambridge, Peterborough and Wisbech. Our volunteers have since been attending various shifts since they’ve opened, along with the Royal Volunteer Service.
"Even our chief officers have been pitching in to support the programme. Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland has been a regular helper at the Grafton Centre site in Cambridge."
Staff who had volunteered had found the experience rewarding and had been well received by the NHS partners, Wayne said. These were in addition to ensuring there were enough crewed fire engines around the county.
Wayne added: “Clearly we needed to balance our core responsibilities as a fire and rescue service and helping with the national vaccination effort.
"We’ve made sure that we have enough crews available to respond to emergencies while offering our partners this level of support.
“The pandemic has presented us all with unprecedented challenges. Rolling out a vaccine to everyone around the country has been a massive challenge, so we were determined to pitch in and do our bit to help.
"Our staff have shown great enthusiasm and willingness to step forward and volunteer their help and we’re very proud to have been a part of this national effort to combat Covid-19.”