24th August 2020 | News in your area

Local hero works with the Surrey Local Resilience Forum

The Surrey LRF declared a major incident in relation to Covid-19 on 19 March 2020. The following day a multi-agency team was set up to deal with the predicted increase in deaths. At the start of the pandemic Surrey was already experiencing significant pressures on body storage with their hospitals at capacity. There was backlog in post-mortems. Within a week a temporary mortuary had been built at Wray Park, the Surrey FRS HQ, helping to release the pressure on the NHS. On 8 April 2020 a second temporary mortuary was opened at the Pathology Centre at the University of Surrey. These two temporary mortuaries provided vital body storage until a larger, central government supplied temporary mortuary could be built at Headley Court.

To support the temporary mortuaries, new teams had to be set up to help with the transportation and administration of the deceased. Volunteers were sought from Surrey FRS, Surrey Police and Team Rubicon (disaster charity now called RE:ACT Disaster Response). Peter was a member of the team that help to transport the deceased to and from the temporary mortuaries. There teams played an essential role in ensuring the deceased were treated with the appropriate dignity and respect.

Peter Bakker, a resident of Reigate, retired from the Surrey Fire & Rescue service two years ago after 30 years of loyal service. In March this year Peter contracted COVID-19 from which, after a few weeks, he fully recovered. His first thought: to volunteer to re-join the Fire Service to assist on the frontline with NHS duties. With the huge increase in fatalities as a result of COVID-19, the hospitals and morgues could not cope so Peter, along with three other volunteers, was engaged in collecting and transporting the bodies to temporary morgues, including one established at Reigate Fire Station. He continued this grim task for seven weeks spending time also delivering much needed PPE to hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, care homes and nursing homes (a vital service that the Fire Service continues to provide). In this time, Peter and his colleagues have accumulated hundreds of hours of voluntary work providing essential support to the NHS and to Surrey’s communities. Our thanks go to Peter and to his colleagues at Surrey Fire & Rescue

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