The island’s soldiers continue to make a valuable contribution to the campaign against Covid-19.
The Royal Bermuda Regiment has been stood down from embodiment after the lockdown was stopped.
But troops are still acting as Covid-19 marshals and helping the Bermuda Health Board man test stations and vaccination clinics at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Bermuda College.
Lance Corporal Gary Dowling, 39, an alto sax player in the RBR Band & Corps of Drums, changed his beat to keep the queues moving smoothly at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s vaccination clinic.
L/Cpl Dowling, who joined the band aged just 14, said: “It’s been good. People are very appreciative – some of them bring us cookies and snacks.
The air conditioning technician in civilian life, from Hamilton Parish, added: “I like interacting with people, so I enjoy it.”
Private Ridwaan Shamsid-Deen, 20, who joined the RBR last September, said: “This is a great job and I’m enjoying it.
Pte Shamsid-Deen, from Southampton, added: “The public are great too and we look after them. Everything is going smoothly.”
One man who got a jab on Saturday morning said: “The soldiers took my name and got me right through for my second jab. They’re great guys.”
Another vaccine recipient said: “They’ve been great. I timed it – it was four minutes from going inside to getting the jab and the hospital staff inside were really reassuring and professional.”
Judy Richardson, the BHB Chief of Nursing and the clinical lead for the vaccination centre, said: “The BHB Vaccination Clinic is extremely grateful to the Bermuda Regiment for their assistance in providing Regiment soldiers for security during hours of operation.
The soldiers are caring and respectful to staff, visitors as well as those attending the centre for their Covid-19 vaccinations.”
Ms Richardson added the soldiers’ role in management of vehicles arriving at the centre was a crucial part of its efficiency – and that they rallied round when extra vaccines became available at short notice last Wednesday.
She said: “They are true soldiers, always at their post but ready to change gears suddenly if necessary.”
Ms Richardson added: “The Bermuda Hospitals Board was able to expand their vaccination centre to include two separate stations- providing the ability to vaccinate more than double the amount of walk-ins.
“The soldiers assigned to us were at the ready, providing full coverage in both areas, escorting members of the public to exactly where they needed to be.
“Their ability to work under pressure and maintain true customer service was recognised by both the public and all staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board.”
Ms Richardson said: “They are most definitely an asset to us at the BHB vaccination centre. I am truly grateful for their continued support.”
Sergeant David Dumont, in charge of the marshal effort to keep tabs on people in quarantine, said his small team managed the list of people who arrived on the island and checked that they were sticking to the rules.
Sgt Dumont added: “We have to check up on them and make sure they are where they’re supposed to be.”
He said: “Most people are happy to see us and a lot of visitors are delighted that we’re doing this.
“We’re not police officers – we’re just checking up on people to make sure they’re okay and generally people are observing the rules.”
He added the RBR troops, split up to cover the East, Central and Western parishes, also asked people to fill in a short survey on their state of health, reminded them of their next test date, and gave practical advice on how to have groceries delivered.
Sgt Dumont said: “We’re the backup line for every agency on the island.
“We’re not out with rifles or clearing up after hurricanes, but this is a very important job that helps keep Bermuda safe.”