Eddie volunteers as a vaccinator at Epsom Racecourse

In the race to meet Government COVID-19 vaccination targets, Esso Petroleum employee Eddie Fish has stepped up as a St. John Ambulance volunteer. Eddie spoke to Newsline about his experiences on the frontline, which began with a six-hour shift at the Epsom Racecourse COVID-19 vaccination centre in February.

Eddie volunteers as a vaccinator at Epsom Racecourse
Eddie Fish on the frontline

“I have been a qualified first aider since the age of 13,” says Eddie. “I see it as a vital life skill - like learning to swim or having insurance,” he says. “You never know when you're going to need it, but when you do, it's there.”

Eddie is a market development advisor for ExxonMobil Aviation and Marine Fuels. He is also part of a team of seven qualified first aiders covering the ExxonMobil offices in Leatherhead. This team undergoes training delivered by St. John Ambulance every six months. It was through this association, that Eddie was asked to be one of 30,000 volunteers helping the NHS to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination programme. He says: “I jumped at the chance to help. I'm not travelling for work currently, so I was able to do so.”

Although qualified, Eddie had to complete more advanced training before he was able to start. This included 12 hours of online study to understand the different vaccines, their chemistry and how they work in the body as well as modules on safeguarding etc.. This was followed by a full day of on-site training, which included role-play and practicing how to give the vaccine using plastic arms!

Eddie worked his first six-hour shift as a volunteer vaccinator at Epsom Racecourse on Valentine’s Day, shadowed by a healthcare professional. “It was just brilliant,” he said. “The emotions for those receiving the vaccines were three-fold. There was excitement for some, relief for others and nerves too, particularly for those who were venturing out of their house for the first time in months. It was extremely gratifying to be able to reassure people and help them feel at ease. Everything was well organised from arrival to departure, with most people on site for just 30 minutes.

“I've signed up to do more shifts at Epsom racecourse for the next few weekends and thereafter I plan to do several shifts each month,” says Eddie. “St. John Ambulance put a lot of effort into my training, so I am more than happy to help out where I can. There are many people who have had it really tough through this pandemic, some losing loved ones as well as livelihoods. If this vaccination programme can help save a few people going through that, then I'm all for it.”

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Eddie volunteers as a vaccinator at Epsom Racecourse