Page 22 - July 2020
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  THE SALAMANDER | July 2020
and, therefore, get a change of scenery. Many of you have had to cope with not being able to move around freely. There was a time when many people would have relished the chance to work from home. I wonder if this has now lost its novelty value? We need contact with others. Have you noticed, perhaps when queuing at the supermarket, how people, strangers, seem more willing to talk? Doesn’t that little bit of socialising make you feel better? We notice that people are waving at us as we patrol. Very much appreciated and it makes us smile. The reaction from emergency service vehicles passing one another is great. We have always acknowledged each other, but there is added vigour to the waving. A mutual appreciation of our roles, I think.
For us routine training has stopped. We cannot do this and maintain the social distancing required. There will be a frenzy of activity to allow for the catch up when restrictions are eased further. I am sure this will be the same for many of you. Returning to work will mean all those things that have been on hold will still be there waiting for your attention.
I think the hardest part is not being able to socialise. Not being able to see family and friends, to pop to the pub, to take part in the various clubs and associations. The freedom to move about as and when we wish. It is difficult, but we must keep going. We will cherish the things that we miss right now even more when they return.
Until they do, stay safe.
How one of our members is helping with the fight against COVID-19
Liveryman David Holt writes about the effects of the pandemic on running a Medical Laboratory.
Ian Withey
MOD Firearms Officer
I am a co-director of a medical laboratory based at St George’s – University of London, in Tooting. The laboratory is an embedded company on the St George’s Hospital site, specialising in forensic toxicology for the police and pathologists, services to the NHS related to the optimal prescription of pharmaceutical
Prof. Holt discusses a case with one of the analysts, appropriately distanced.
drugs and a research centre on illicit drug use.
For me, an early impact of the virus sweeping across the globe was the cancellation of a lecture tour in Malaysia and Thailand. Somewhat ironic, since the subject of my presentations was, in part, concerned with resilience in the drug supply chain. There is a lot of interest in this topic because over the last decade many countries have outsourced drug manufacture to China and India. This has had an impact on the supply of essential drugs during the pandemic, when global needs
have been at exceptionally high levels. The related problem of PPE, the manufacture of which has also largely been subcontracted outside the UK, was the issue that has tended to dominate press coverage here, and occupy the resources of many of our Fire and Rescue Service members.
In the laboratory there were some immediate issues to resolve as the lockdown came into force. These included re-configuring the working space to allow for social distancing. Whilst it’s counterintuitive to expect laboratory workers to work from home it was actually possible to have two scientists working from home preparing toxicology and court reports, and to send some of our research students home to carry on with literature based studies. This freed-up sufficient space to keep our analysts appropriately distanced. At the start of the lockdown there was also a problem getting staff into work, since some were stopped by police asking why they were out. This was overcome with a Key Worker letter supplied to us all by one of our customers, the City of London Police.
For our analysts little changed on a day-to-day basis. As one might expect, there have been a high number of post-mortems carried out, some of which have still required toxicology analyses. Surprisingly, our case numbers for drink and drug driving offences did not diminish. I assume if you
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