Page 21 - July 2020
P. 21

Liveryman Ian Withey, an MOD Firearms Officer writes: What has changed? How are the current restrictions affecting you? Well, that’s a very good pair of questions and to be honest not something that I had stopped to consider. On the face of it as a critical worker, I thought “not very much”.
a firearms conversion course. New weapon to learn – training venue with Northumbria Police. Newcastle.
Would it be easier to live there? One month later, you guessed it – Newcastle. Fire training again, this time to gain a Supervisors ticket. A brilliant course laid on by the team there. Once again I find myself being a fully qualified Aviation Rescue & Firefighting Service Supervisor.
A trip to The City in November for Livery to round off my Firefighters year. A tremendous privilege.
The year not quite over and back to policing. Another course, Authorised Firearms Officer Counter Terrorism upskill. 2019, Job well and truly done.
How things change. 2020. It started well. All thoughts were upbeat. The search for a Fire Service post in the Middle East begins, no rush, lets roll with the punches was the approach. After all, good things come to those who wait don’t they? Heidi suggested that we might start the year by cashing in the airmiles and a trip to Abu Dhabi was arranged. It rained. But still an enjoyable visit.
The world began to change.
We are all pretty used to the restrictions by now. In our household, critical workers that we are, things are pretty much as normal. Shift work continues. The noticeable changes in the workplace are very much centred around the use of PPE. The now usual package of gloves, facemasks and plenty of sanitiser being the norm. Our routines have not really changed. In fact, we are very lucky. Being able to move around outside when on duty
  Having been asked to put a few lines together for Salamander gave me the opportunity to reflect. To me the best way was to look back to my year prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. What a tremendous and very busy 2019 that was.
Having worked over Christmas and New Year, my wife Heidi and I took a break in Abu Dhabi, all in the name of rest and relaxation. Many of you will be aware that we are serving Police Constables with different Forces. As always the trip was over far to quickly and work once again took over. For me this was coupled with a visit to Fire Training School to regain my Breathing Apparatus competency, the first step towards full requalification. With the help of the training team at Newcastle Airport a very physical few days gave me the result I was looking for. It also proved to me that I was still “up for it” and also how much I had missed Fire Service life. Straight back to the day job. Little respite.
Crew Commanders requalification course, Newcastle once again, well back into the swing of things at this point, muscle memory didn’t let me down. Up for it indeed, best pass mark I’d ever achieved, 100%. From the course off on a long-standing trip to Hong Kong with an old Navy colleague. A week of beer and sightseeing. Allow your imagination to fill the gaps! Post trip, Hong Kong descended into chaos and the Umbrella protests reached fever pitch. This place is not just the crossroad of the world but also of culture and politics. I wish them well.
Through the summer work continued at a pace. My own role requires continual refresher training, visiting many venues across the West Country, ballistic first aid, firearms tactics, range days and personal safety training to name a few subjects covered. Time for another holiday. A summer trip to Malta to visit friends. Long hot days – wonderful. Again work interrupts. I couldn’t believe it,
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