Page 13 - July 2020
P. 13

Freeman Dawn Whittaker is Chief Officer of East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and writes about changes to normal procedures as a result of COVID-19.
The work had begun with our local resilience forum before the pandemic was fully declared in the UK and before the lockdown was put in place. This meant reviewing many business continuity plans that were already in existence and gathering intelligence from our health partners.
Within Service we knew the potential impacts were going to be large, so we agreed to stand up our EMT – Emergency Management Team to start considering what we would need to put in place, both for us, but also to support the LRF in delivery of our duty for civil contingencies
We fairly quickly decided to set up a COVID Working Group, a cross discipline group of internal experts to start to review how we would need to adjust and modify practice – from IT provision, H&S review of risk assessments, working with the Rep bodies, home working etc...
At a practical level we made early decisions to change our models for Prevention and Protection activity, for example instead of visiting business premises to conduct Fire safety audits, on a risk basis we changed the process to a remote ‘visit’ where Technical fire safety officers conduct the process over the phone. We are however, still visiting premises if concern is raised through the remote audit or if a complaint is received.
Also, in terms of prevention, we
conduct around 11,000 home safety visits each year, but it quickly became clear we would not be able to enter homes, so we designed a remote telephone HSV process and only physically attended homes where there was a cause for concern raised, or to replace a faulty alarm.
In terms of response to emergencies, it was really important to continue to reassure the public that we would be there to assist, though there had to be significant amendments to our ways of working and also use of protective work wear and PPE.
Assistance to other organisations include the following:
Provision of 3 officers working for the Sussex Resilience Forum to assist in staffing as Tactical Commander and Tactical cells. This includes leading the Vulnerable Person cell. This meant reviewing policies and procedures to provide assurance that vulnerable people remain safe and healthy during the pandemic. Two main streams of work are being undertaken in partnership:
• Nutrition & Health - Identification of residents not included in the shielded cohort but at risk of suffering harm through lack of food / medicine/ isolation.
• Safe from Harm – Identifying adults and children who are vulnerable to exploitation and victimisation (such as domestic abuse, online abuse / grooming,
gambling), physical and mental wellbeing (including risk of suicide, harmful drinking, substance misuse, lack of exercise etc.) and Safeguarding.
We have also agreed local assistance to our colleagues in the Ambulance service and general community and are providing staff for:
• Supporting Ambulance Driving and Patient/Ambulance personnel support. • Logistical support in moving around large volumes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) around Sussex for the SRF.
• Providing some logistics support for Secamb - mainly delivery of PPE.
• Delivery of essential items for Vulnerable persons.
• Delivery of PPE and other medical supplies to NHS and care facilities.
• Lighting provision for local air ambulance to land in Brighton 24/7.
• Provision of temporary structures for COVID-19 testing sites.
• Provision of a large range of educational materials that can be used for home schooling, all delivering important safety messages.
Many significant changes have had to be made to our normal ways of working with many staff working from home. This put a lot of pressure on our IT facilities and required significant additional investment. It’s certainly true that many more people have now learnt the skills of “virtual meetings” Whilst many have got used to remote meetings and working, we were really cognisant of the
     Follow us on twitter @LondonFire1666

   11   12   13   14   15