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Soldiers drafted to drive ambulances as NHS comes under pressure from virus

PUBLISHED: 14:37 19 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:43 19 April 2020

NHS Paramedic Dave Bacon (left) and Trooper Sam Jones (right) pose for an image representing the working relationship of both the Army and the NHS. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

NHS Paramedic Dave Bacon (left) and Trooper Sam Jones (right) pose for an image representing the working relationship of both the Army and the NHS. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

UK MOD © Crown copyright 2020 This image may be used for current news purposes only. It may not be used, reproduced or transmitted for any other purpose.

British Army soldiers have been drafted in to drive ambulances to ease the squeeze on the NHS squeeze during the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS Paramedic, Andy Kemp (left) trained solders from 1st Queen’s Dragoon’s Guards on their ambulances and the use of PPE. Picture: Cpl Danny HoughtonNHS Paramedic, Andy Kemp (left) trained solders from 1st Queen’s Dragoon’s Guards on their ambulances and the use of PPE. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

Sixty troops from the 1st The Queen’s Dragoons Guards have this week been trained to transfer critically ill patients between hospitals so more East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) staff can stay on the ‘front line’ of fighting the virus.

Marcus Bailey, EEAST’s chief operating officer, praised the soldiers, who are based at Swanton Moreley, near Dereham.

Mr Bailey said: “We are very grateful to the British Army for their support and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.

“Covid-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the military, fire service, the public, businesses and our other partners.”

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The troops all have their ‘C’ category driving license, a qualification required to take the wheel of the Jackal patrol vehicles they usually drive.

They have just done a three-day EEAST training course at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk to learn the ins and outs of ambulance driving, ready to take to the roads across the East of England.

Under the scheme, patients are always accompanied by a critical care team, including a doctor and nurse, and soldiers are not to attend ‘blue light’ emergencies or give medical treatment.

NHS Paramedic Andy Kemp (left) familiarises Trooper Sam Jones (right) on the equipment used in the back of the ambulance and the loading and unloading of the stretcher. Picture: Cpl Danny HoughtonNHS Paramedic Andy Kemp (left) familiarises Trooper Sam Jones (right) on the equipment used in the back of the ambulance and the loading and unloading of the stretcher. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

One of those taking part is Trooper Jake Tredgett, 21, who grew up in Norwich and studied Uniform Public Services at Norwich’s City College.

He said: “I joined the regiment straight out of training about a month ago, so I’m really pleased to be involved. I did feel a bit overwhelmed initially, but that passed once I was fully briefed and knew what was expected of me.

“I’m just keen to get on, get out there and do my bit. I grew up in Norwich and Norfolk is my home, so I’m really proud to play my part and help my local community.”

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NHS Paramedic Andy Kemp (left) shows Trooper Sam Jones the equipment used in the back of the ambulance and the importance of decontaminating the ambulance and clinical equipment.Picture: Cpl Danny HoughtonNHS Paramedic Andy Kemp (left) shows Trooper Sam Jones the equipment used in the back of the ambulance and the importance of decontaminating the ambulance and clinical equipment.Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

Another Trooper, Sam Jones, 26, said: “I’m just glad to be able to support the ambulance service. We’ve all been fully briefed and we’ve had the training. I’ve got no worries. We just want to be able to help now.”

NHS Paramedics Andy Kemp and Dave Bacon trained soldiers from the 1st Queens Dragoons Guards on the radios used by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
Sixty soldiers from Norfolk-based 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards are supporting the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Cpl Danny HoughtonNHS Paramedics Andy Kemp and Dave Bacon trained soldiers from the 1st Queens Dragoons Guards on the radios used by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). Sixty soldiers from Norfolk-based 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards are supporting the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Cpl Danny Houghton

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