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Our veteran driver Alyson McKell kept a journal which gives a fascinating insight of her essential work during the Coronavirus crisis
A VETERAN courier has kept an online journal to track how the Coronavirus pandemic transformed her work in Glasgow during the lockdown.
Alyson McKell, 52, started keeping the diary as her normal routine with Scotland’s biggest independent courier firm was turned on its head within just a few days as the Covid-19 crisis developed.
She spent three weeks charting the changes, from a doubling of her work with the NHS, to the isolating effects of social distancing and the eerie experience of driving on deserted roads.
Among the NHS work undertaken by Alyson as part of a 35-stong fleet in Glasgow, is delivering vital medication to the homes of cancer patients and collecting and delivering palliative care medicines to care homes.
She and other Eagle Couriers colleagues also ferry vital PPE to frontline NHS staff in hospitals and hospices; transfer blood for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service; and collect countless samples from surgeries and clinics all over Greater Glasgow and Clyde for safe delivery to hospital labs.
Alyson, who lives in Townhead, Glasgow and has been a driver with Eagle Couriers for the past 14 years, said: “I love being a courier. No two days are the same. Even if you turn up to a place you visited the day before, there will be different people, so it is always new.
“However, one of the biggest changes is with social distancing, particularly in the hospitals. Of course, it is absolutely necessary, but it still feels very impersonal.
“You arrive with a package or delivery and leave it in a designated space well away from anyone else. Then when you move a safe distance away, someone will pick it up. It is very regimented and while it is for the best right now, it’d definitely not something I would like to see become normal.
“There aren’t many businesses or offices open at the moment, but even those which are still operating, people are distancing and the world feels a much less friendly place.”
Another challenge for Alyson – who has spent her entire working life as a driver since leaving St Roch’s Secondary School in Royston – is getting used to deserted roads.
She added: “In some ways it is great. Recently I had to drive from Glasgow to Bathgate to change vans, it would normally take me at least 50 minutes each way. Instead I was there and back in an hour.
“But in other ways it is really quite eerie. I saw another driver go straight through a red light. At the next set of lights, he stopped to apologise to me. He said he was totally spooked by the silence of the roads and his concentration just lapsed.”
The most rewarding aspect of her new routine is that the number of important deliveries she makes for the NHS have doubled. Eagle Couriers has a number of important contracts with the NHS.
Alyson added: “I’ve always enjoyed the NHS part of the job and now it is even more interesting. I am visiting different wards and departments that I never even knew existed.
“While I’ve been working with Eagle, we’ve always delivered blood and other samples across the NHS for testing. The reality is that we don’t always know what we are delivering or what it’s for.
“But what I do know is that we are delivering an awful lot more at the moment and I certainly hope it is helping in the fight against Covid-19 and that we are doing our bit.”
Alyson’s daily diary is being shared on the Eagle Couriers website on https://www.eaglecouriers.co.uk/blog/. The firm has more than 35 years’ experience and a 75-strong fleet in Scotland. Its headquarters are in Bathgate, West Lothian and it has depots in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Managing Director Fiona Deas has been with the firm for 22 years and was named ‘Business Woman of the Year’ at The Scottish Women’s Awards 2018. Ongoing success of the firm saw it acquire baggage repatriation firm THS Couriers in 2017 and Surrey-based Wey Group International in 2018, boosting the firm by expanding south of the border.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ALYSON’S COVID COURIER JOURNAL
DAY 1 (30 MAR) – Delivered a consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) to nursing and medical staff at the Marie Curie Hospice at Stobhill hospital.
DAY 2 (31 MAR) – Assisted the occupants of a car which skidded off an M8 slip road at Blochairn and struck a pole.
DAY 3 (1 APR) – Picked up hot meals from a school production kitchen for delivery to the children of essential workers who are at one of the few schools still open in the city.
DAY 4 (2 APR) – Collecting vital samples from the Sandyford Clinic in Sauchiehall Street and ferrying them safely to the biochemistry and virology labs at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
DAY 5 (3 APR) – Collecting medicines from the pharmacy at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for delivery to the Marie Curie Hospice at Stobhill.
DAY 6 (6 APR) – Face a 20 minute wait at Boots in Clydebank to collect vital end of life , palliative care medicines for a care home in Yoker.
DAY 7 (7 APR) – Picking up prescriptions from Springburn Health Centre, collecting all medicines, then delivering them safely to a care home in Dennistoun.
DAY 8 (8 APR) – Visiting NHS Sterile Services Department in Greenock to pick up 14 large boxes of protective gear for delivery to staff at Inverclyde Royal Hospital.
Delivering vital legal paperwork to Polmont Young Offenders Institution near Falkirk.
DAY 9 (9 APR) – Collecting medication from the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre at Gartnavel General Hospital, to be delivered to the homes of cancer patients.
DAY 10 (14 APR) – Delivering laptops and other vital work at home equipment to residential addresses across Glasgow on behalf of a client.
DAY 11 (15 APR) – Making a delivery to one of Glasgow’s best-known industrial landmarks, the Provan Gas Worsk at Royston.
DAY 12 (16 APR) – Receiving lavish thanks for delivering vital medicines to the homes of grateful NHS patients in Kilsyth, Cumbernauld and Milton.
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