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May 20, 2020

COVID Support Force


The Defence Secretary put in place new measures that enable armed forces personnel to support public services in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The COVID Support Force is currently strengthening public services, supporting the NHS, and protecting communities, by deploying the unparalleled skills and experience for which they are famous...

 

*** UPDATE ***

 

Staff from Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) have been assisting the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care in their efforts to identify and purchase PPE. To date, over 2 million items of PPE have been purchased from orders negotiated by DE&S staff.

In addition, the MOD’s Quality Assurance Field Force have also been doing their bit, making sure that any PPE sourced as part of this new supply meets the specification requirements for NHS and Social Care staff.

 

In Wales, 60 British Army personnel have been mobilised to support the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s frontline response to COVID-19. Their roles will include assisting paramedics with non-clinical tasks.

The new NHS Nightingale Hospital, based at the ExCel Centre in East London, was open and ready to receive its first patients just 9 days after the project began. Four other NHS Nightingale Hospitals are currently being constructed in Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate and Bristol.

There are over 2,000 members of the armed forces deployed to assist civil authorities with the response. They are part of 20,000 armed forces personnel currently stood at readiness to take part. Additionally, military reservists have been mobilised by the MOD to support public services. They will be used in a range of roles, such as providing medical and logistical support for the NHS; acting as liaison officers; and deploying specialist skills such as engineering and accounting.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: "Our Reservists are a truly remarkable group of people; each with their own skills and experience from their civilian careers beyond the armed forces. At times like these, to be able to draw on that pool of talent and expertise is invaluable. I know that our Reservists will answer the nation’s call with real enthusiasm and will play a key part in our response to COVID-19."

The armed forces have contributed dozens of specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services in preparing their response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Liaison officers at Joint Military Command Scotland in Stirling are in close contact with the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre. Similarly, the military operations team in Brecon Barracks is in close contact with the Welsh Government and is providing planning support to Wales’ four regional Local Resilience Forums.

Military personnel have been assisting the Department of Health and Social Care by delivering the equipment that will test front line NHS staff for coronavirus as the Government works with industry, philanthropists and universities to significantly scale up testing.

Armed Forces personnel, drawn from each of the three Services, began training to drive oxygen tankers at Air Products facilities in Carrington and Port Talbot. 39 drivers and 63 driver’s mates have now completed the process and are now able to fill tankers, drive them safely and deposit their cargo at NHS facilities.

In Southern England, 80 personnel drawn from each of the Armed Services have been mobilised to support the South Central Ambulance Service’s frontline response to COVID-19. Their roles will include the manning of emergency response cars, driving larger ambulances and providing support at emergency response centres to take calls from those in need.

Alongside this, in Wales, 60 British Army personnel have been mobilised to support the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s frontline response to COVID-19. Their roles will include assisting paramedics with non-clinical tasks.

Military personnel have been providing assistance to authorities in Cumbria, helping to install medical equipment at 5 temporary Patient Recovery Centres. These facilities will provide a half-way house for recovering COVID patients who have been discharged from hospital, but are not yet well enough to return home. This has helped to free up 500 beds at frontline hospitals in the region.

As part of the military’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, forces from Joint Helicopter Command are on standby to provide aviation capability in support to civil authorities. The new COVID Aviation Task Force has helicopters on standby across the UK to support the government’s response to coronavirus. The RAF Puma, Army Air Corps Wildcat, RAF Chinook and Royal Navy Merlin provide essential medical evacuation capabilities as well as the ability to swiftly deliver essential equipment and personnel to where they are needed across the nation.

 

Image: MOD Crown Copyright 

 

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