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Covid-19 “still at the forefront" for the emergency services

Covid-19 “still at the forefront

Tuesday 04 August 2020

Covid-19 “still at the forefront" for the emergency services

Although life in Guernsey has largely returned to normal, emergency services are still operating differently as a result of the corona virus.

Home Affairs President Mary Lowe said that both Bailiwick Law Enforcement and Guernsey Fire & Rescue were still carrying out functions that they would not normally be expected to, including self-isolation checks.

Head of Bailiwick Law Enforcement Ruari Hardy said that Guernsey Police had planned for a significant impact to their staff at the height of lockdown, and had prepared for this so that essential responsibilities could be maintained. A 30-35% loss of staff was expected during its peak. 

According to Mr Hardy, this was to be mitigated by a restructuring of the police force. The ‘night-time economy’ and a number of traffic warden patrols were reduced so that more officers were available during the day to respond to the needs of the pandemic.

Some former officers who had left the force 6-12 months before the beginning of lockdown were also sworn in as Special Constables should they be needed, but they were not called upon.

While the emergency services were well-equipped to deal with the height of the pandemic, both Guernsey Police and Fire & Rescue Service are facing increasing pressures as the island returns to near-normal, but their additional responsibilities have not subsided. 

Deputy Mary Lowe

Pictured: “It’s still at the forefront for the emergency services,” said Deputy Lowe about the impact of Covid-19

Guernsey Fire & Rescue also continue to carry out corona-specific functions. According to Chief Fire Officer John Le Page, the Fire Inspectors that would normally be carrying out routine building inspections are assisting Public Health by visiting people in self-isolation.

Even with this additional support, however, not everyone who is isolating receives a visit. 515 people were in self-isolation at the time of speaking, and an average of 100 phone calls were being made each day, but only 20 visits per day were being made. As a result, visits were being prioritised for people whose mental health presented a significant risk during isolation. 

Mr Le Page said that, while planning for the ‘crisis’ aspect of the pandemic was generally good, planning needed to now shift towards dealing with the corona virus in a more ‘business as usual’ environment.

He also noted that it would likely be the end of August before the Fire Inspectors would be able to return to Fire Service work, and that it may take them up to a year to clear the backlog of inspections that have been missed.

“We’re still in the midst of it all” said Deputy Lowe. “We need more resources, and there’s not more resources, we haven’t got any. We’re trying not to let too many things fall to the wayside.”

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