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Community Responder

  • Wing Commander Adrain Gillespie
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


My involvement with COVID,

I've been what they call a military community responder

for the last eight years.

I jointly founded the scheme at RAF Henlow,

where we provide a rapid response vehicle

fully marked up as an ambulance

to assist the East of England Ambulance Service.

And our primary area is sort of

Bedford-Luton-Biggleswade area.

We've been on that scheme for about eight years.

There's 10 of us.

We wear the green ambulance uniforms.

We have the same radio systems,

what they call a dispatch system, which is a big computer.

Literally we go to areas where they're short of cover.

If I give an example of Biggleswade,

there are three ambulances there, they're all being used.

Then we would sign onto duty as volunteers.

We'd be sent to Biggleswade,

and we'd be providing emergency cover.

If there's a trouble nine call in that area,

we will be sent to that call.

When the COVID crisis, the pandemic kicked off,

they looked across to see

how they could support the ambulance service.

The East of England wrote to the local army district

and through a MACA, military aid to the civil authority,

we were stood up for a period

of just over three and a half months,

taken away from our normal duties in full ambulance uniform.

We received a week of additional enhanced training

to intermediate life support.

And then we were released given our own,

what they call a DSA, a double staff ambulance,

and we were let out to support the ambulance service,

responding to trouble nine calls.

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