THE Army has been thanked by the Welsh Ambulance Service for their support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 200 soldiers from the British Army assisted the trust by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of their Operation Rescript.
The first teams were deployed in April last year after intense training at Sennybridge, with more teams in the summer and Christmas.
90 of the soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps were enlisted on Christmas Eve during the height of the pandemic’s second wave. Over the course of the pandemic, more than 100 Army personnel have been deployed as ambulance crews, assisting with more than 12,000 callouts across Wales.
Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE was presented with a commemorative plaque by the trust to show their appreciation.
Brigadier Dawes, the commander for military support in Wales, said: “Over the last 12 months, we have all faced challenged beyond our imagination.
“Our resilience has been pushed to a point none of us could have anticipated.
“Throughout I have been struck by the unwavering commitment of our health care providers across Wales and the selfless way each and every one of them has faced setback, loss, trauma and exhaustion – yet carried on.
“We in the military are humbled and extremely proud to have been able to step up and support NHS Wales when it was needed.
“It has been a genuine privilege to work side by side with our partners in the Welsh Ambulance Services during the past year.
“Men and women from across the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have been supporting the Welsh Government’s response to Covid-19 for more than a year.
“I have heard some extraordinary stories from those service personnel involved.
“They have all been humbled by the professionalism and commitment of the ambulance crews who deal with the unexpected and traumatic with empathy and patience on a daily basis.
“We have forged a lasting relationship with the ambulance service, an organisation with whom we share very similar values, a work ethic and a sense of duty.
“It has been a real honour to work alongside them.”
Welsh Ambulance Trust director of operations, Lee Brooks, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been the most challenging period in our history, but having the military on board put us in the best possible position to face the task ahead.
“We were very fortunate to have enlisted their support, and the presence of military colleagues was well received by staff, volunteers and our patients alike.
“We’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the military, which has been further strengthened as a result of their support through Covid-19.
“We were thrilled to present Brigadier Dawes with a token of our appreciation today.”
Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Trust, said: “We’re extremely proud and grateful to have had the military working alongside our staff in the collective effort against Covid-19.
“Their support has not only strengthened our existing relationships with the Armed Forces community but has opened up new opportunities for collaboration in future.
“We hope that their glimpse into the world of the ambulance service has been as rewarding an experience for them as it has been for us.”
Across the UK during the pandemic, more than 20,000 military personnel were involved in supporting public services as part of the ‘Covid Support Force’. The Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) which the assistance to the Welsh Ambulance Service came under has now finished.