This morning I spent the first part of the day at a small and quite informal event to commemorate ‘999 Day’. This is the day on which, every year, we commemorate and say “thank you” to those people who go out to work and may end up not coming home because their work involves protecting and safeguarding the rest of us.
Present were representatives of the Fire Service; Ambulance Service; Coastguard and, of course, people from 3 of the 5 Police Services that work in the City. As a simple test of your Scouse knowledge do you know which 5 Police services they are!?
The Council was represented at Officer level by Prof. Dr Matt Ashton the Council’s Public Health Director. He and his team have been very much on the front line of emergency delivery in the City as they have dealt with the threats of the Pandemic. At a political level it was represented by Cllr Mary Rasmussen our Lord Mayor, Cllr Jane Corbett and me.
I go to these events for two reasons:
Firstly, I want to acknowledge clearly and publicly the work that they undertake. Our City works because a lot of people are dedicated to its future both as professionals and as volunteers. On Friday I went to a service at the Catholic Cathedral for the same reason to acknowledge the tremendous role that they play through their parishes in the City’s spiritual and social care activities.
But our first responders are people who do risk life and limb on a regular basis on our behalf. Mercifully very few of them are killed or injured. That is because of their professionalism.
- The Police know how to talk down people from bad decisions. It doesn’t always work but it normally does.
- Fire Officers know to conduct urgent risk assessments to work out what can best be done with burning buildings or car accidents.
- Our Ambulance Services are often dealing with people under the influence of drugs or alcohol and must know how to handle problematic people.
- Our Coastguard service is one that we often forget about unless we are seafarers or boating enthusiasts. But if we are in danger on the sea or in an estuary, they are the ones that carefully calculate what can be done and who can do it.
Most of these professional services are augmented by volunteers. The Police have Special Constables, and are looking for more. The Coastguard can call in the RNLI; the Fire Service has volunteers who help at Fire Stations and with Fire Safety activity; and the ambulance works with Organisations like St John’s Ambulance at major events.
Secondly, though I go to learn so that I can be informed about what is going on so that I can get on with job of ‘knitting together’ these and other services. I have learnt all sorts of things this morning which I can talk about when I meet my fellow councillors, the people that I represent and the wider population of Liverpool.
We often see or read in the media about some of the actions that these people take in extreme situations. We don’t hear about the Police officers who deliver loads of small actions with the community to keep us safe from harm or criminal activity. We see the blue lights flashing for all the services but never see the quiet stuff and the prevention activities which pursue.
Most people do not realise that on many occasions the services join up as one team in a system of bronze, silver or gold commands. Depending on what the problem is a different person from a different organisation will be leading it. A major fire, for example, will be led at incident level by a senior fire officer. A big demo or civil disturbance by the Police; whilst at City level it has been the Council which has been ‘Gold Command’ for all the pandemic activities.
I particularly wanted to attend today because of the tremendous work these organisations have done during the pandemic. I hope that when I said ‘Thank You’ today to the representatives of these organisation I did so on your behalf as well. We stood in silence for 2 minutes to remember those that didn’t go home and lost their lives whilst protecting ours.
We live in a relatively safe and protected society because we plan for bad things and hope that those things do not occur. But when they do, we can all sleep easier in our beds because of the great work of the Blue Lights teams.