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Council to give staff keyfob alarms after wasp attack puts man in hospital

PUBLISHED: 13:17 19 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:35 19 October 2020

Fobs will be introduced following a worker's horrific experience with wasps. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fobs will be introduced following a worker's horrific experience with wasps. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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A town council has agreed to fork out £1,000 for panic alarms for staff after a lone employee was attacked by wasps and repeatedly stung, landing him in hospital.

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The man, who was working at the rear of Dereham Memorial Hall a few weeks ago, was only able to get help so quickly because he drew the attention of nurses at a blood donation session.

Tony Needham, clerk for Dereham Town Council, said: “He was panicking and going into shock so he couldn’t use his mobile. I can sympathise with him because I’ve been in panicky situations where you’re trying to swipe your phone or it’s raining and you can’t get it to work.”

Because of the attack the employee was unable to use his mobile phone to call for help, so the nurses called an ambulance and he was briefly hospitalised.

At an October 13 meeting, town councillors decided to provide its staff with keyfob devices that trace their location via GPS and, when triggered, can alert the authorities if they are in danger. The keyfobs will cost about £1,000.

Dereham councillor Linda Monument said the keyfobs were a good idea to ensure workers' safety. Picture: Matthew UsherDereham councillor Linda Monument said the keyfobs were a good idea to ensure workers' safety. Picture: Matthew Usher

Although the council’s health and safety executive were happy with changes the council had already made to its ‘lone worker risk assessment guidelines’, councillors decided to go the extra mile by kitting workers with the SOS fobs.

The fobs are centred around an easy-use ‘red alert’ button.

Pressing the button patches the user through to someone at an Alert Response Centre (ARC) who can speak to them via the fob, or if the worker is unable to speak, call the emergency services for them using their GPS location.

If a staff member suddenly collapses, the fob will go into ‘worker down’ mode and automatically send a signal to the ARC.

Councillor Linda Monument said: “I think it’s a very good idea. If we’ve got staff who might need that help, it’s like an insurance policy - but it’s one they’re carrying with them all the time, so they get immediate value out of it.”

Councillor Hugh King said that workers’ safety had to come above any financial concerns.

“Just forget about the money, because that’s recuperated back in other ways,” he said.


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