Operation RESCRIPT: COVID-19 Testing
On 9th June we deployed as a 12-man testing team, on Operation RESCRIPT to help the government in their fight against Covid-19.
Having spent the 6 weeks prior to deployment working from distance, and remaining current and competent through various lessons, workshops and presentations ran as a Company, the call finally came to relieve C and D Coy who had been running the testing centres in the previous weeks.
"I’m sure I speak for most of those involved, but it was a relief to be utilised and contribute to an increasingly ominous situation, and on a personal note it was a great opportunity to work alongside and lead soldiers for the first time, something I’d been looking forward to ever since joining the Army".
Prior to deployment, we were given a comprehensive training package which included detailed briefs on safety measures, use of equipment, smooth setup and running of the testing site and how to conduct and complete the Covid-19 tests themselves in an efficient and safe manner. We also spent a day shadowing one of the testing teams who had been running a site prior to us, before heading out ourselves, so all in all we felt highly prepared and knew what to expect.
Our area of operations as a Company, was across the South West of England, and specifically for us, we were focussing in and around the wider Salisbury area. Our RTS (Regional Testing Site), where we collected and deposited the testing kits and PPE daily, was based in Salisbury, where they also ran a drive through testing centre run by civilian contractors. On collection of equipment from the RTS, we’d then be allocated a location for the day within the South West, where we would set up and conduct testing for the day.
Overall, it was a pretty simple process, managing traffic streams in and out of the car parks, conducting the tests in a safe yet efficient manner and making sure all those who visited the site felt comfortable and happy whilst conducting tests. Daily, tests would consistently be into the hundreds, and we’d make sure we were testing members of our team daily to avoid any infection amongst our group.
Once the Army were being pulled out of the testing process, we began the handover takeover with the civilian contractors who were taking over within Salisbury. We conducted full lessons of the testing process from start to finish, with 10 different contractors per day. Members of the team would deliver detailed lessons on various processes including setup, testing, safety and we then ran role play sessions and stress tested the contractors on how they dealt with certain situations.
Once the handover was complete and the agency staff felt comfortable running the process with us just shadowing, they assumed full control of the testing centre and the Papa John’s deliveries that the local branch would very kindly gift us every other day.
Overall, it was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to finally command a small team of soldiers. Our team worked tirelessly, operated effectively alongside the civilian agency staff and were extremely professional throughout, and this was echoed by the contractors we handed over to, who by the end, didn’t want the boys to leave.