Sailors provide frontline support to ambulance service

Naval personnel from training establishments HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood have been providing vital support to the NHS.

During the past few weeks, LAET Gordon Brooks and Lieutenant Commander Chris Wood have been working in the South Central Ambulance Service, transporting patients around the area in support of the coronavirus response.

Around 80 people from across the Armed Forces have been activated to support paramedics on the frontline in the south of England. The tasks range from assisting ambulance crews, to patient transport services, to working in the emergency operations room dispatching resources.

Lt Cdr Wood, from Collingwood's Maritime Warfare School Training Operations (Eng), said: “Over a year ago, I volunteered to become an Ambulance Community First Responder and that meant that I was identified as having the skills required to support the NHS at this time.

"I am currently working in Patient Transport Services, based out of Portsmouth, alongside military and NHS colleagues. Our main role has been conveying COVID-19 patients between hospitals and discharge to their homes, as well as ensuring vulnerable people, and those who require vital services, such as renal dialysis, are safely conveyed to and from hospital.

"I feel proud and privileged to be working with a great team of people from the military and ambulance service, all as part of the wider NHS family.

"The level of support from the public has been immense. The dedication of the regular NHS workers who I've met, looking after some very poorly patients, has been humbling and brought the COVID-19 pandemic to first-hand experience.

"Thank you for your kindness and support to the NHS and key workers.  Please follow the guidelines to keep yourself and those around you safe, so that those who do need vital care can access it.”

I feel really privileged to help the public out at this time.

LAET Gordon Brooks, from HMS Sultan

LAET Brooks, who is an instructor at HMS Sultan's Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School, said working for the NHS is an opportunity to do something different outside the normal working day.

“I’m currently conveying patients to and from hospital and in my spare time working on the 999 response car, typically out of Southwick Park or Andover," he added.

"I feel really privileged to help the public out at this time. What’s really surprised me is how good the general public have been and how much respect and thanks there has been as you’ve been out there going about the job.

"If I could say one thing to the public right now it would be to stay positive and keep following the guidance. Get outside for exercise and maintain a distance from others whenever you can and stay happy.”