Staff at a North East fire and rescue service have been praised by the NHS after dedicating 11,000 hours to administering tests and vaccinations.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have revealed they have also administered almost 35,000 lateral flow tests and 20,000 jabs to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus.
And today a team of fire staff are also starting shifts at the NHS’s Lighthouse lab testing facility where they will help to support colleagues in health.
The efforts come just weeks after the Service helped set up vaccination centres in Newcastle just four days after receiving a request from Newcastle GP Services.
Senior fire officers have praised those who have volunteered to support the community effort but now health bosses have also thanked TWFRS for their support.
A spokesperson from the Integrated Covid Hub North East, which is part of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, also called on more support for their Lighthouse Lab.
They said: “Our regional Lighthouse lab is already processing around one million Covid tests every month and we’ve recently seen an increase in demand due to the Omicron surge.
“At the moment, we’re currently recruiting around 200 new staff to work at the lab, which will take us a few weeks to complete.
“But until then we have an urgent need for more people to help out straight away, possibly on a temporary seconded basis from their current employer, to ensure we continue to process swabs efficiently and effectively.
“We’re hugely grateful that colleagues from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have been able to respond and offer some temporary support during this particularly pressured period.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath today praised staff at TWFRS for their continued commitment to working collaboratively with key partners to keep the community safe.
He said: “We play an integral part in the humanitarian response across our region and we have adapted as a Service in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We already worked closely with the health sector but we have been an even closer ally of the NHS since the Government introduced the testing and vaccination programme.
“Our staff have volunteered to help fight the pandemic and many of them have given up their own time alongside their day jobs.
“This kind of life-saving response is a key function of the fire and rescue service and I am incredibly proud of every single staff member and volunteer who has been involved.
“Community safety is at the heart of everything the Fire and Rescue Service work to achieve and right now.
“Supporting the collective fight against the Coronavirus is one of our key community safety activities alongside our safe and well home safety work and emergency response.
“Quite frankly we will always find a way to achieve what’s needed or make a way. It is all part of our commitment to creating the safest community here in Tyne and Wear.”
TWFRS have administered 34,499 lateral flow tests and 19,353 vaccines to members of the public since March 2020, dedicating 10,935 hours of staff time.
The public are still able to collect Lateral Flow Home Testing kits from their Headquarters site in Washington between 9am and 12 noon on Mondays and Thursdays.
More information about the Lighthouse Lab is available at https://www.newcastle-hospitals.nhs.uk/about/integrated-covid-19-hub-north-east