As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact all of our lives, thousands of ‘key workers’ across the Humber region are working tirelessly around the clock to keep their communities fed, in touch and ultimately safe.
Lorry drivers, post office workers, bus drivers and, of course, NHS staff are rightly being praised and appreciated by the whole country for their unwavering efforts in the face of a deadly, unpredictable virus.
At a more local level, Humberside Police are still patrolling our streets and responding to 999 and 101 calls. Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and regional ambulance services continue to provide around the clock fire and paramedic cover on both sides of the Humber.
Local Authorities are becoming the hubs for social care and are providing support and advice around such varied things as business support and mental health, whilst healthcare providers are helping the most vulnerable with their changing medical needs.
These organisations are not only working in their own areas in terms of role and geography, but they come together every day to plan the next phase of the battle against Covid-19.
The Humber Local Resilience Forum (Humber LRF) brings together all of these responding agencies and other relevant organisations to plan for and respond to large incidents and emergencies such as flooding, a significant industrial fire or in this case, a health pandemic.
The Forum meets regularly and are involved in many live or table-top exercises to plan for exceptional circumstances. Between meetings all the agencies staff work together coordinated by the Humber Emergency Planning team that the local agencies fund.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Blacksell, Chair of the Humber LRF, said: “The number of confirmed cases is now over 1,000 in this region (Yorkshire and Humber). Thankfully the number of deaths is still relatively low compared to other areas of the country and across Europe. Sadly, we must accept that this figure will rise significantly in the coming weeks and months, but we are doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus in our region by working together.
“The messages put out by central government and locally by the police and local authorities to self isolate and avoid large gatherings in public are being heard and adhered to by the public. I want to thank the vast majority of people who are staying at home and practising good social distancing.
“To those who continue to flout the advice, I would say that the threat from this virus is very real and if we can stop it spreading so quickly, we can take pressure off our NHS and save many lives. Please follow the guidelines issued nationally and locally.
“As a Local Resilience Forum, we are in the best place to share data and support each other so that we can help those who most need it through this unprecedented situation. We are running our response to this emergency, which we formally declared as a Major Incident locally some time ago, through a daily Strategic Coordination Group which includes other partners such as Port Health Authorities and private sector partners like KCOM. Various sub groups also ‘meet’ virtually each day, coordinating all areas of multi agency response and implementation of our existing plans for managing a pandemic.
“We plan for every eventuality, even the worse ones. Multiple injuries or mass fatalities is never something you expect or obviously want to ever deal with, but all of our partner agencies plan for this. Like other areas of the country, we are looking closely at the number of hospital beds likely to be required and even the capacity of local mortuaries. We always hoped that the day would never arrive to even have to consider such measures as mortuary increases, but we are sure that the public would prefer us to be prepared for such an eventuality and to be able to treat their lost loved ones with dignity regardless of how this situation develops.
“All agencies have implemented strict procedures to minimise contamination risk to our staff so that we can continue to provide the best possible service to the public. On behalf of those staff, and those other key workers in the private sector such as shop workers, delivery drivers and many more, I would like to thank the public for their co-operation and appeal for everyone to continue to demonstrate patience and support for those who are providing vital services
“Only by working closely together in these unprecedented times will we be able to save as many lives as we possibly can.”