Why Bakers Dolphin Coach Drivers’ our hero…
The whole team at Bakers Dolphin has been recognised as RHA Heroes for their outstanding act-of-assistance, switching from holiday tour driving to driving ambulances during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bakers Dolphin drivers spent over a year with Bristol Ambulance Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in St Phillips, Bristol, after lockdown restrictions prevented the coach company from running its popular holidays and day trips.
They volunteered for ambulance training initially, undertaking routine patient journeys, thereby freeing regular staff to take emergency journeys.
Prior to March 23rd 2020, Bristol Ambulance EMS were battling to handle the rising number of Covid-19 cases and demand started to soar as the situation worsened. The 95-strong fleet of ambulances could not work regular hours while coping with demand for emergency help. Additionally, there simply was not enough staff to cover any self-isolating EMS staff without impacting service delivery.
Bakers Dolphin, based 20 miles away in Weston-Super-Mare, meanwhile faced enormous commercial pressure. With all international and UK travel in lockdown, they had 50 drivers furloughed with no work, were handling thousands of cancellations for customers, and had a business with very little income. In this dire situation, Bakers Dolphin’s managing director, Max Fletcher, came to an arrangement with the emergency services whereby drivers were retained and supplied to the ambulance service. Their local knowledge, excellent driving skills and customer service were an excellent foundation for undergoing specialist training and a group of volunteers agreed to provide the service.
Mr Fletcher said: “Like most other businesses we were looking at ways that we could all get through this. Our business is over 100 years old and has helped out in wars in the past providing transport, so this was another chapter in our history.”
Rob Johnson, director of operations at Bristol Ambulance said: “It was important for us to find local drivers that were available immediately as our own dedicated team were simply unable to work all the hours while keeping up with the soaring strain on the emergency services.”
A total of 20 spent a year and battlling through the height of the pandemic, whilst some drivers were retained by Bakers Dolphin to provide school transport for the children of key workers, enabling their parents to perform vital work.
In May 2021, with the government’s recovery roadmap offering a chance to return-to-normal, the drivers have returned from their ambulance duties.
The drivers, during a time of immense uncertainty and commercial pressure, exercised selflessness and professionalism in aiding emergency services to cope during a time of national crisis.
Rob Johnson also added: “Throughout their time with us, the performance and care of the drivers from Bakers Dolphin was exemplary, everybody at Bristol Ambulance would like to say a huge, heartfelt, thank you for their support and resilience.
Going over and above any sense of duty, Bakers Dolphin honoured its company pedigree and acted in the name of public service. Their support made an incalculable contribution to the lives of those saved by key workers, and proudly served Bristol in helping the city return to normality.
We believe they are exceptional candidates for the RHA Heroes award.
Would you like to see more of our heroes?
We’re highlighting some of the fantastic work that our road hauliers have been doing recently, across multiple disciplines, skills and qualifications, in order to keep our country going during these challenging times.
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