Sixty soldiers from Norfolk-based 1st The Queen’s Dragoons Guards are supporting the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) during the coronavirus pandemic.

The soldiers are driving ambulances transferring critically ill patients between hospitals, releasing EEAST staff to continue their frontline duties.

The troops all have their ‘C’ category driving license, a qualification required to take the wheel of the Jackal patrol vehicles they usually drive. This week, they have completed a three-day training course delivered by EEAST at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk to familiarise themselves with the ambulances they will be driving.

The troops are providing patient transport services across the East of England. Patients will be accompanied at all times by a critical care team, including a doctor and nurse, and soldiers will not be travelling to blue light emergencies or delivering any medical treatment.

Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer with EEAST, 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. We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.”

Trooper Jake Tredgett, 21, who grew up in Norwich and studied Uniform Public Services at City College Norwich 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. ”

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.”

The support to EEAST is part of the military’s 20,000-strong Covid Response Force, set up to put service personnel on standby to support public services in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our Armed Forces always step forward at the appearance of threats to the country and its people. Across the United Kingdom, soldiers, sailors, airmen and women have got the backs of our NHS colleagues as they confront Covid-19.”

Image: Crown Copyright 2020.

The story above is another reason people should back our SOS – Support Our Services campaign on May 8th – VE DAY 75. Read more about the campaign here.