I write as a serving police officer, a uniformed response officer answering 999 calls in one of the Scottish cities, to highlight the increasing concern and confusion amongst officers as to why we are not being prioritised for the Covid vaccine.
I fully accept and understand that the elderly and most vulnerable must be the absolute first priority. And I know that many other key workers also have a case.
But since March last year I’ve been brought into daily contact with the public and at distances of less than two metres.
I have had to perform CPR with other colleagues, doing so with no PPE on while paramedics suit up outside.
I’ve arrested numerous people and had the resulting physical contact and proximity for prolonged periods in police vehicles and small holding cells while we wait to be processed.
I’ve dealt with detainees who have had epileptic fits and had to provide first aid. I’ve been one of the first on scene to those who have been stabbed. I’ve broken up fights. I’ve attended countless house parties and broken them up. I’ve policed mass protests. I’ve been sent to the side of rivers to find those contemplating suicide, having to protect them and convey them to the appropriate help. I’ve been one of six police officers required to physically restrain someone on an acid trip in an A&E resus bed, the saliva-filled spit hood inches from my hands once it was taken off for medical attention to be given.
I’ve been in more houses than I can count, numerous hotel rooms, various hospital wards, ridden in the back of more than one ambulance (on occasion restraining those inside to stop them being violent to paramedics), been in at least two A&E departments countless times, and attended at three different mental health units multiple times. I car-share with a colleague for about eight hours a day, and that car is used on average by another four people in the day. I have been deployed operationally across five local authority areas and in all of this dealt with hundreds of different people and households.
The immediacy of our work doesn’t always allow for nice considerations about PPE. There isn’t always time to get a pair of gloves on before you jump out of a car to split up a fight. To date I haven’t knowingly had any symptoms but I believe I must have been asymptomatic given the sheer volume of contacts I have.
If this virus, and the new strain, is really different, if we are being told that younger people shouldn’t be complacent, we shouldn’t think it won’t affect us, if it can be deadly even to us, then am I required to carry on regardless? When will I be offered protection from this horrible virus? Or which of my duties above do I stop doing to protect myself?
I took an oath to preserve life. But at what cost to me?
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