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How Pembrokeshire’s test trace protect teams are keeping us safe

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AS VACCINES roll-out, test trace protect teams continue vital work to keep us safe.

WHILE vaccinations are the great hope for a path out of the coronavirus pandemic, the role of the Test Trace Protect team remains as important as ever.

The dedicated Pembrokeshire County Council Contact Tracing team have been at the forefront of the battle to stop the chain of infection since early in the outbreak.

From a small number of positive cases in the early days following March 2020 to several hundred cases per week at the peaks, the team has steadfastly taken on the challenge.

But unless you have direct contact with the team you may not be sure exactly how contact tracing works and how it helps to keep us all safe.

Kate Canny from Hubberston and Nicola Williams from Fishguard are Lead Tracers within the Test Trace Protect (TTP) Team at the Council.

Both moved from their roles within the Council Contact Centre to TTP to provide support during the pandemic.

From taking Contact Centre calls helping customers with queries on Council services, Kate and Nicola are now part of the TTP team that makes the calls to people who have returned a positive Covid-19 test and speak to those people they have been in close contact with.

Track and Trace operates 8am-8pm, seven days a week with staff split across shift patterns.

The TTP team use the NHS all Wales Contact Tracing database which receives details of positive Covid-19 cases throughout the day and night.

The team contact the person involved and ask them to confirm their name, address and date of birth and the date of the test to check they’re speaking to the person who’s had the test. Supporting those who have tested positive is an important part of the job.

“More often than not the person who has tested positive will know their result before we call them but sometimes they don’t,” Nicola said.

“These can be difficult calls because the person can be extremely upset or even angry and my role is to offer re-assurance to them and answer any questions that they may have.”

Support and advice is part of every conversation.

The app has become vistal throughout the pandemic.

Kate said: “If the case has one of the three main symptoms, a cough, high temperature or loss/change to their taste or sense of smell we use this information, but if they are asymptomatic we use the date they took the test to calculate their required isolation period.

“Once we have completed a symptom check, we will then trace back 48 hours previous to the test or symptoms, this is because you can carry the virus with no symptoms during this time.

“We discuss any locations they’ve visited such as shops, cafes, if they’ve travelled or been on holiday. We talk to them about their family, household, friends and work place contacts over this time. This is where we create a timeline record to try to prevent the spread of the virus any further”.

Every detail is important, Nicola added. “What might seem like an unimportant piece of information to you could be the missing piece of the jigsaw to me”.

A report is added to the cases record in the TTP system. The Test Trace Protect process is governed by data protection and all records are held in the strictest of confidence. The team cannot share information about the positive case without the individuals’ consent.

Kate said: “We advise cases to isolate for 10 days, we go through hygiene and isolation advice. We can also signpost the case or contacts to support services in relation to for example shopping, receiving prescriptions, financial support and NHS guidance to help them whilst they are isolating”.

Self-isolation means staying at home, not having visitors, not going out even for shopping and if you are positive limiting contact with others in your household.

It’s a difficult time for people so it’s important to check how they will manage and provide details of services that can help them with their day to day tasks.

Kate said: “Once we have collected the contact details for people they have been in close contact with, we then pass this onto our team of Advisors. The Advisors will then contact anyone that may now be at risk. The Advisors provide them with advice regarding the need to self-isolate and talk through any support they may need to do this.

“Understandably people are worried for their family, friends and their own health. They worry that they may have spread the virus further. People are also lonely isolating, so we try and reassure people the best way we can.”

Receiving a call to isolate can also be a shock for some people.

“People don’t always believe us when they say they have been in contact with someone with Covid as we are unable to give any information about the contact,” said Kate.

“On occasion, but rarely, people refuse to isolate but we just express the importance of self-isolating and advise it is now law and they may be subject to enforcement action or fines. The vast majority understand why they need to self-isolate and are prepared to do so to keep themselves and others safe.”

Nicola added: “Understandably, some people think we are scam callers or refuse to answer or can be rude and abusive.

“But it’s so important that if you have a call from 02921961133 you answer it. It’s important to know that we will never ask for your bank details or for any type of payment.”

The TTP team has also been hugely impressed with the way Pembrokeshire residents have pulled together to support one another over the past 11 months.

Nicola said: “The strength of community that still exists in Pembrokeshire is a wonderful thing to see. Neighbours helping neighbours, communities pulling together to help wherever and whenever they can.

“Pembrokeshire is a rural county and has a lot of isolated villages but still, residents have risen to the challenge and continue to do so.”

Kate agreed: “As a team it has come to our attention how fantastic and caring neighbours, friends and family have been when they need to support someone when they are isolating.

“Everyone has been pulling together in our communities to ensure that the person isolating is cared for and has what they need in a safe manner.”

Thanks to people following the stay at home message and self-isolation rules, we are now seeing numbers of positive cases start to fall.

But it remains vital that you get tested if you have coronavirus symptoms.

Nicola added: “By working together we can help control the spread of Covid-19”.

“Getting tested and following self-isolation rules are by far the best way to help protect our loved ones and communities even though it may seem to be an inconvenience at the time.”

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test.

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Pembroke Dock: Two in hospital following Fort Road car accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES dealt with what has been described by a witness as a “horrific car accident” in the Pembroke Dock area on Wednesday night (Jun 12).

A 23-year-old woman, driving a black BMW, travelled down Fort Road at speed, hit a low wall, catapulting the vehicle some considerable distance across a picnic area. The vehicle ended up irreparably damaged on the beach – which was luckily not in use at the time – landing next to the old Cambridge Gun Tower.

No other vehicles seem to have been involved, police said.

The driver has been arrested but remains in hospital, one passenger is in a critical but stable condition, in Cardiff, and a second passenger sustained only minor injuries.

A spokesperson for Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at 10.45pm on Wednesday night (Jun 23), to reports of a road traffic accident near the Fort Road car park in Pembroke Dock.

“We attended the scene with one rapid response vehicle, two emergency ambulances and our Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

“Two people were taken to University Hospital Wales, Cardiff for further treatment.”

The police are appealing in the media for information following the crash.

An official statement from the police reads as follows: “We were called to Fort Road, Pembroke Dock, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday night to reports of a single-vehicle collision. Ambulance and fire service also attended.

“A 19-year-old man was taken to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff and remains in a critical but stable condition.

“A second passenger attended hospital for minor injuries but has since been discharged. A 23-year-old woman was arrested, and currently remains in hospital.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision but who has not yet spoken to us should get in touch by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, visiting our website, or calling 101.

UPDATE: 24.06.2021, 15:47HRS

On Thursday (Jun 24) said that the female who was arrested was de-arrested because of the need for medical treatment, and is “no longer under arrest at this time.”

The police also added that their investigation was “still active”.

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Pembrokeshire call handler helps deliver Llanelli couple’s new baby

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A 999 CALL HANDLER from Pembrokeshire has helped deliver a Llanelli couple’s baby.

Father-of-two Chris Bassett, from Hook, answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Thanks to Chris, Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home.

Troy said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday, June 3, and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday, June 4.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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Covid causes partial school closure at Haverfordwest High VC

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A PARTIAL school closure is in force today at Haverfordwest High VC school after a pupil in year 9 has tested positive for coronavirus.

All students in year 9 must stay at home , isolate and await further instruction while the school completes all of the necessary Track and Trace processes.

In a statement released by the school, they said: “We have been informed that a Year 9 pupil has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precautionary measure and to enable us to complete all of the necessary Track and Trace processes, the school will be closed to Year 9 Pupils today.

“The school remains open to all other year groups.

“Until further notice, Year 9 students should stay at home and isolate until further instructions are given. Lessons for all other year groups will continue as usual. Unless your child is in Year 9 they should attend school.”

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