Over a hundred RAF personnel who tested thousands of South Derbyshire people for Coronavirus have handed over the Midway testing centre to council employees.
The RAF personnel, led by Joint Military Command (East), deployed to South Derbyshire at the request of Derbyshire County Council to help establish and run three Covid-19 testing centres.
The first deployment of troops took place in December last year when 50 personnel opened the Grove Hall testing centre in Swadlincote which has since closed. This was followed by two further centres at Gresley Old Hall which was closed on the 5th February and Midway Community Centre. They conducted 13,800 tests over a seven-week period.
The military-led sites used the Lateral Flow Test, also referred to as rapid testing. The swab tests were processed at the centre in around 30 minutes. The test helps to identify individuals who have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms and who are therefore potentially spreading it unknowingly within their families and local communities.
Former Red Arrows mechanical technician Simon Adams was one of the 120 RAF personnel who supported the Council. He can normally be found in a hangar carrying out maintenance and repair work on aircraft.
I arrived at RAF Waddington in September from my posting with the Red Arrows and deployed on this task in December. It’s obviously very different from my normal job.
Simon, who used his downtime to learn Japanese, added:
We tried to make it as easy as possible for everyone coming through the door to be tested. It’s obviously been different, but I’ve enjoyed it. We had a warm welcome from the people of Swadlincote - they were all pleased to see us.
It’s just been good to help support the Council and feel like you are having an effect. It’s been really rewarding.
Squadron Leader Charlie Lynn, Detachment Commander of the South Derbyshire Testing Unit said: “We were here in support of Derbyshire County Council who have now generated a civilian work force to carry on what we helped to start and our job here is complete.
We would like to thank the people of Swadlincote for the warm welcome we received. They have been incredibly supportive. We will now return to our unit and prepare for the next task, whatever that might be.
Derbyshire County Council’s Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said:
I’d like to pay tribute to the fantastic support we have had from the RAF. They joind us just before Christmas and helped us get our Swadlincote sites set up. Thank you to everyone involved.