Meet Dave, a 55 year-old Clinical Care Manager with the North East Ambulance Service who lives with his partner.
Working for the Ambulance Service, Dave sees first hand just how devastating Covid-19 is.
He and his partner are both key workers. They have a big family and it’s been difficult balancing supporting them while working and trying to keep everyone safe.
Dave wants to thank local people for doing their bit and urges everyone to keep following the rules to help beat Covid.
Watch Dave’s video and find out more about his story.
“Let’s stay ahead of the virus as much as we can by following the rules. Together, we can do this.”
“The vaccination programme is doing so well. A few family members in their early 50s are getting invited which is encouraging. Although the vaccination programme is starting to have an initial impact, it’s the social distancing rules that remain vital in helping to not just get the virus under control but to keep it under control on a long-term basis.
The only sure-fire way to reduce the infection rate and keep on top of the virus is by wearing masks, sanitising hands often and keeping your distance where possible. I do agree that social distancing should remain in the long term. We know Covid isn’t going away, but to get to a dominant position in managing the virus, we need to ensure the infection rate is as low as possible. The mask-wearing, extra hygiene measures and staying two metres apart in public places play a huge role in doing this.
Given how high the infection rate and death toll was over Christmas and into the new year in the North East, we’ve worked really hard – and done well – in getting this down. And we’ve done this by working together. It makes me proud to be from the North East when I read about the progress we’ve made.
Because of our hard work and diligence, we’re in a position to move forward as we start looking at how we can safely come out of lockdown. I know it’s a slow process but we want this lockdown to be the last one so we must remain cautious.
This is why I am involved in the BeatCovidNE campaign because we need to keep the message going, reminding people to follow the rules. It’s so easy to break or bend them but that’ll send us back to square one. And we don’t want to go back. Everywhere I go, people recognise me now. Whether that’s from being in the paper, on the back of a bin lorry, or the metro station. It’s amazing how many people the campaign has reached.
At work, the majority of us have had our first dose of the vaccine, which is a huge milestone for us. This, coupled with social distancing rules, is helping the North East Ambulance Service to provide care to everyone who needs it.
I do hope once the mass vaccination of the population is done, we’re going to keep Covid at bay with an annual Covid booster to ensure it’s consistently managed. We do have a long way to go though before we reach that point so, while we get there, it’s the social distancing rules that are crucial. These rules are going to protect you and others, more than the vaccine will right now.
The effort has been wonderful - we can’t spoil that now. The next couple of months will prove critical in ensuring we remain on the path out of lockdown. Let’s stay ahead of the virus as much as we can by following the rules. Together, we can do this.”
“The bad weather, especially the ice and snow, has created a busier week at work as we’re dealing with a lot of slips and falls. The call outs are still pretty constant but we don’t expect anything less, given it’s one of our coldest winters in a few years and we’re living through a pandemic too. It’s busy but we’re doing fantastically well at managing workloads and ensuring we’re reaching as many people as possible.
It’s good that hospital admissions are slowing but we need the number of those requiring hospital treatment to be a lot lower, reinforcing why social distancing rules still hold the key to the North East coming out of lockdown. Stay at home. That’s how we’re going to make real progress.
Although the rules seem simple to follow - wear a mask, sanitise your hands regularly and keep social contact to an absolute minimum - they can be easily broken.
As we’re in lockdown we’re not spending money on going out whether that’s to the pub, the cinema, a museum or a soft play. Because of this, many people are spending more money on home improvements.
Tradespeople are legally allowed in your home but it’s so important that they follow the guidance and you do too. If you are getting any work done, please ensure the tradesperson is acting in a Covid safe way. They must wear a mask. They must always remain two metres away from you and any other member of your household.
Avoid talking at length with them and even offering them a cuppa. I know that may sound excessive, but the virus can be passed on so easily even if you or the person doing work in your home isn’t displaying any symptoms. The same applies if you see someone in the street, popping to the local shop. It’s natural to stop and chat, especially when you aren’t seeing many people at the moment, but is it worth the risk? Give them a call when you get home instead.
We know we’re dealing with a virus that spreads like wildfire, so we must have this at the front of our minds when in public places. Even at work for those who can’t work from home, remember the importance of ‘hands, face, space’.
I read in the paper last week that supermarkets and non-essential shops are experiencing higher footfalls lately. I know we’re growing bored and the lockdown is getting tiresome, but we are right on the verge of seeing some form of relaxations to lockdown. Let’s not undo all our hard work. We’re so close now.
The vaccination programme is going from strength to strength, we’ve vaccinated nearly 20% of the population now, which is a huge achievement. This percentage will continue to rise over the next few weeks and put us in a strong position. I know it’s tough, but we just have to keep faith in the rules.
If you are struggling, which is completely understandable given we’re nearly a year into life-changing restrictions and repeated lockdowns, please don’t keep it all in. Talk to someone. Keep your spirits up, pick up the phone - it’s really important to talk. And look forward to when we can see each other in person again; laugh, smile and have a hug. Those days will come again.”
“It’s been over a month now since the third national lockdown began and I know it gets monotonous, but I’m focused on the end result. Infection rates are continuing to fall, and hospital admissions are starting to reduce, albeit it slowly. The rules do work - if you stick to them consistently.
I know it’s tough and mentally draining but our huge efforts to minimise social contact are starting to pay off. I would like to share a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has listened to the advice, followed the guidance and are doing all they can to reduce the transmission of the virus. Cases in the North East are falling each week, and this is because we have come together, determined to beat this virus and reclaim normality.
Although the news about emerging variants is worrying, the rules in place safeguard us all against all strains of the virus. If we social distance, ensure we travel only within our local area, wear our masks and wash our hands regularly, we’ll be able to slow the spread. I know it’s tempting to visit busy beauty spots but it’s so important that we stay home, or as close to home as possible, so we can enjoy these kinds of trips in the future. We can’t risk localised spikes as our road out of this continues.
The vaccine news gets better and better. It’s great to hear that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduces transmission. These are positive signs that will help us get out of the pandemic a lot quicker. However, we must be mindful that more of the population is still to be vaccinated and until then our safest bet of bringing us out of lockdown is by following the stay-at-home message.
At a local level, our vaccination hub is continuing and, week by week, more of my colleagues are getting vaccinated. This, coupled with the rules, is helping to bring Covid under control but we are far from out of the woods yet. This is why I get so annoyed and disappointed at those who spread false information online about the virus being a hoax.
They need to see the impact it’s had on the lives of thousands of people across the region. It’s been devastating. I have lost people personally - there are thousands of families across the region who have lost loved ones to Covid. Covid deniers do not see the trauma of dealing with it daily like I do.
Right now though, we need to focus on the present. The stay at home message is working and by following the rules we are getting closer to our normal lives. Until then though, we must remain compliant, keep our distance and have faith in the vaccination programme.”
We caught up with 55-year-old Dave Langley, a clinical care manager with the North East Ambulance Service. We wanted to find out how he’s coping with lockdown, his thoughts on falling Covid infection rates and why he can’t wait to experience a live football game again, watching his beloved Sunderland AFC.
“I’m on leave this week which is a welcome break because it’s been - and continues to be - an incredibly busy winter. This lockdown has made me realise how content I can be at home. Before Covid, if I felt at a loose end, I would pop down to the club for a chit-chat with people. Now though, I have learnt that I don’t always have to be out and about, doing something. I am happy simply staying at home.
North East infection rates are falling, and this is a credit to people sticking to the rules. Given the news that the UK variant is 30% more deadly, making sure you wear a mask, minimise social contact and wash your hands regularly is still so important. I think most people across the region do realise this. It’s so ingrained in our daily routines now, isn’t it? I know my partner Denise always checks that she’s got her handbag, phone and mask before she leaves the house. I’m always carrying a small bottle of hand sanitiser in my pocket too.
While we’re working hard to get the infection rate down, this is not a time to become complacent. We must continue being vigilant, following the government’s stay at home message and consistently stick to the rules. Becoming a bit careless by, for instance, forgetting to wear your mask when at the supermarket, to distance from your colleagues at work or travelling out of your usual area is enough to tip the infection rate the other way. It’s that finely balanced at the moment.
I know everyone wants to know when restrictions are going to be lifted but we must accept that the threat of Covid is higher than ever at the moment. If we are going to work our way out of this lockdown then the only solution to that is by following the rules, staying at home, and not seeing our friends and family unless they form part of our support bubble.
As a region, we’re working so fast in getting the most vulnerable groups vaccinated and we’re ahead of the national curve. Several of my family members have had the vaccine now. My 78-year-old mam has had her first dose which is a huge relief and so has Denise and my daughter who is an A and E nurse. Although we have all received our first dose, we know we’re not now immune to Covid and we could easily transmit it without knowing.
We must remember that many people who have the virus are symptomless. They don’t know they have it and don’t know that they’re passing it on. It’s a silent killer. This is where we really need to communicate that stay-at-home message. Act like you have Covid. Keep social contact to a minimum. That’s the best thing you can do.
Of course, like everyone, I am missing normal life. I hugely miss going to watch Sunderland play every weekend. It was always a good day out. We also had a couple’s getaway planned for March but sadly that’s off the cards now.
The thing that’s keeping me going is a summer where Covid infections are low. If we do the hard work now, we’ll hopefully be able to make the most of the better weather. I would love nothing more than to meet friends down the seafront to enjoy some sunshine, a few drinks and just each other’s company. I can’t wait for those days to return.”
As the national lockdown continues, we spoke to Dave Langley to find out how he’s doing, what he thinks about the region’s efforts in the vaccination roll out and why following the rules should be everyone’s priority right now.
“I’m feeling pretty good considering the situation we’re in. My partner Denise and I have been taking part in a weekend Zoom call with all our friends. There are about 10 couples involved and it’s great to see faces we haven’t seen in person for so long now.
At work, things are full on but I’m so impressed by the way we are handling it all. We are working incredibly hard together, as a team, giving it our best efforts to help as many people as we can. A colleague sent me a text the other day to say he saw me on the back of a bin lorry as part of the BeatCovidNE campaign. That made me smile and it’s good to know the message is reaching local communities.
I have been particularly impressed with the region’s vaccination roll out programme - it’s been really well managed. South Tyneside has received particular praise from the Prime Minister for how quickly we’re vaccinating care home residents. The local roll out has been exceptional with the councils and NHS trusts working tirelessly to get as many vulnerable groups vaccinated as possible.
I’m also pleased that the North East Ambulance Service is starting an in-house vaccination programme to vaccinate as many staff as possible. This week alone, 800 vaccine slots have been created for staff which is great news. Vaccinating those on the frontline is an effective move because it’ll prove critical in protecting people and reducing community transmission of Covid.
While the vaccination programme is hitting the headlines, we must be mindful of our current reality. The UK is reaching a death rate of nearly 100,000 and daily death tolls are higher than they’ve ever been. Receiving the first dose of the vaccine does not make you Covid immune. I’ve had my first vaccine but I know it’s still so important to follow the rules.
The only way the death rate will fall is by lower infection rates and the only sure-fire way to do this is to minimise social contact. Only leave your home if essential for work, medical reasons or food supplies, wear a mask wherever you go and wash your hands regularly.
I know it’s tough to keep going but our efforts are working. The infection rates are coming down and that’s credit to everyone who continues to stick to the rules to get us out of lockdown quicker.
If I’m ever feeling like I’m stuck in the house, I just pop to the local park to get some fresh air. There’s no need to go to another area or town. Staying local is easier and safer. I miss going on holiday but at work I’m reminded why we’re in lockdown and I know if I want to jet off again, sticking to social distancing is vital.
Like everyone, I can’t wait to go out for a curry and a few drinks. Until then, we must stay home and minimise our social contact. It’s the only way we’re going to bring the virus back under control until the vaccine can prove it’s worth.”
We caught up with Dave Langley, a clinical care manager with the North East Ambulance Service, to find out how he was adjusting to lockdown three. Dave told us a bit about his day-to-day life and explained why we need to make tweaks to our daily routines while the mass vaccination programme gets underway.
“Work is extremely busy. To alleviate pressure on our hospitals as much as we can, paramedics, with their life saving skills, treat as many people as possible at home as safely as we can.
We are the first line of protection for hospitals and, while we’re hectic, we know that with more and more people getting vaccinated daily, we’ll come out of this.
Some of my team is helping to administer the vaccination at the Centre For Life in Newcastle and they’ve said how well organised it is. The process is slick, everyone feels safe and supported with the information they need to know about the vaccine.
I’ve had the first vaccine dose and my next one is in March. I understand why the government has increased the period between getting the first and second dose. By doing this, it means many more people will have a good level of protection rather than none at all.
Being under some form of lockdown has become a way of life. Right now, the message is to ‘stay at home’. When not working, I’m at home, limiting my social contact as much as possible. My partner Denise and I only visit the supermarket once a week. I’m aware this is easier to do than if we were feeding several growing children but the more often we mix in places like supermarkets and essential shops, the greater the risk of passing on or contracting the virus.
We are, in effect, acting like we have Covid. As soon as I leave the house, whether it’s to go to work or the local shop, I put on my mask. It’s become second nature to sanitise my hands before I leave the house, and then in the car, and also use the sanitiser provided by my workplace or the shop I’m entering. It’s such a normal part of daily life now.
If Denise and I could socialise with friends every weekend, we would. We haven’t been able to do that for a long time now - we greatly miss it - but we know there’s a good reason for it. If we want to do these things in the future, we must consistently follow the rules.
Stay local to exercise, don’t travel via car or train to reach a place to exercise. Start at your front door and finish at your front door. If you see someone you know when shopping or exercising, no matter how unnatural it feels, don’t stop and have a chat - call them when you get home. Act like you have the virus.
All we need to do now is get to the other side of this. There’s a strong feeling of resilience and positivity at work. We’re feeling optimistic because we know if everyone sticks to the rules for a little while longer, we’ll reach the end of this long, dark tunnel. The vaccine has been found - more than one - it’s only a matter of time now.
Until then though, maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask wherever you go - whether that’s queuing to get into a supermarket or to pick up a takeaway from your favourite restaurant - and sanitising your hands properly is the only way that’s going to protect you and your loved ones and get us all out of this sooner rather than later.
If people don’t follow the rules, we are putting even more pressure on an already strained NHS. The NHS saves lives and to ensure that continues people need to stick to the rules. It’s that simple.”
We spoke to Dave Langley, who has worked for the North East Ambulance Service for 34 years. We discussed how he’s finding lockdown three, his thoughts on the new Covid-19 variant and why it’s more important than ever to follow the rules.
“Given my role at work, I think another full lockdown was inevitable, especially with the new variant. The hospitals are in real danger of being overwhelmed - it’s a scary, worrying situation.
The new measures can only help to reduce the transmission of Covid if people follow the guidelines with no rule-breaking or bending. It is a case of life and death now and we all need to be compliant.
Over the Christmas and new year break, I think we expected that people were going to be a bit lax and switch off to the Covid guidance. You can’t blame them really and I do understand but infections rates and hospitalisations have risen. And that was just a very small window of relaxation - one day. Imagine if we didn’t have any measures in place at all for even a one- or two-week period?
The North East Ambulance Service is working really hard and coping incredibly well under the circumstances. Our paramedics are highly skilled and are able to treat a lot of people at home. We do our best to manage hospital admissions as much as we can but there are many people falling ill with Covid – it really can make you seriously poorly.
I’ve suffered a personal Covid loss too with my partner’s cousin recently dying. He was living with cancer but leading a relatively normal life. However, he contracted the virus and wasn’t strong enough to beat it - and he probably caught it from simply walking past someone.
The new variant is accelerating the spread of the virus, making it harder to get under control. This is why people need to stick to the rules.
As much as you might want to, you can’t even pop next door to see your neighbour for a quick cuppa, because you are breaking the rules (unless they’re your support bubble) and you could be spreading the virus without knowing.
If we don’t stick to the rules, more people are going to become infected at a faster rate due to the new variant. Although it’s not more severe, more people will become poorly because it spreads quicker which, in turn, puts an even greater strain on an extremely stretched NHS.
This is why the basic rules play such a critical role. Leaving your home for essential reasons only such as food shopping, medical reasons or exercise as well as keeping your distance, wearing your mask and washing your hands can save a life. If you’re in a public place such as a supermarket or on a beach, please keep your distance. If it’s too busy, go back another time.
I know boredom does set in though. Lockdown box sets are a big hit in our house and we’re looking at booking a holiday which we hope to go on in the next year or so. Video technology is playing a key part too by ensuring we keep in touch with our families. You can support your loved ones by simply picking up the phone for a chat. It does make a huge difference.
The vaccine is our answer to getting out of this. I am so pleased with the huge uptake in the vaccine. People want it and people are keen to get it and that’s what we need, that kind of mindset. In the vaccine versus the virus race, I truly believe the vaccine will win but only if we keep following the rules. A big part of this is to continue to test if you get symptoms and self-isolate properly.
Stay at home. That very simple act will make a huge difference if we all do it and stick to it.”
We caught up with Dave Langley, who has worked for the North East Ambulance Service for 34 years. We discussed how he’s finding living through the pandemic and the highs and lows of day-to-day life as well as his plans for a Covid-shaped Christmas.
“It’s been a busy week. My partner Denise, who’s a nurse on a Covid ward, and I have been like passing ships in the night as she’s been on night shift and I’ve been on 12-hour day shifts. Work has been busy, but it’s been encouraging to see the rates of infection falling in the North East.
Wearing masks is a huge challenge. Until you have to wear one for every single minute of your 12-hour shift and ensure you continue to wash your hands, change PPE as required and remain socially distant where possible too, you don’t realise just how tricky it is.
I am so used to wearing my mask now, it’s second nature. A bit like not leaving the house without your phone! Because we must be extra vigilant at work, I take that into my personal life. If I’m going to a shop or supermarket, I pop my mask on before I get out of the car and not just before I step into the store - minimising risk is always at the front of my mind.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you just how much I love this time of year! My home is lit up like a Santa’s grotto - I have around 10 inflatable Christmas decorations outside my home and in the garden.
Normally, all the family are round watching us decorate the house and seeing the lights go on. It’s been very different this year though. We shared a video of the house all lit up with the decorations on Facebook for my family to see, as opposed to anyone coming over. I don’t like to dwell on that too much as it’s upsetting, isn’t it?
Christmas this year isn’t going to be the same in our home. Denise and I, we’re both very sociable people, and usually we would have lots of days and nights out planned with our friends and colleagues when we are not on shift. This year though there’ll be no meeting the lads down the club, no meals out together in a big group, no work Christmas party. It feels weird.
We must keep our guard up and follow the rules over Christmas. If we do this, we’re also helping others to enjoy a Covid-safe Christmas too. I’m a bit anxious as I worry people might become a little bit too relaxed and let their guard down, not wash their hands as much and not follow social distancing guidelines. It’s the season of sharing, whether that’s chocolate, hugs or laughter, and unfortunately that’s where Covid thrives.
If I had any advice this Christmas, I would say enjoy yourself but be sensible. Be safe. If you do start feeling a bit under the weather, get a test and please self-isolate. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s only for 10 days. By doing so, you minimise the spread and protect us all.”
55-year-old Dave Langley is a clinical care manager for North East Ambulance Service, based at Pallion. In this role, he is a frontline manager for emergency ambulance crews, a job he’s done for 34-years. He lives in South Shields, with his partner, Denise, who is a nurse on a Covid-19 ward.
“Our home is busy and happy. My partner and I both have children, and Denise recently became a great-grandmother - our place is lively and energetic. Because we help care for the younger members of the family when we’re not working, we are vigilant about not bringing the virus into our home, especially given what we do. In my job, I am all too aware of the risks of all kinds of illness but Covid is something that’s completely blown my mind. I have seen it affect many different people in so many ways.
It’s the unknown that drives fear around Covid. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, you can’t smell it. We can’t pinpoint where it is. Some people don’t even get any symptoms and can pass it on without realising. This is why all the precautions and minimising physical contact is so important.
The main worry is that you don’t know how it’s going to affect you - I have seen with my own eyes people become seriously ill from Covid - which is why doing everything we can, taking on that personal responsibility and following the rules, is vital.
It is upsetting, but the fact is, the less contact we physically have with people, the less we’re likely to catch the virus. If everyone minimised their contact as much as possible, then we will see infection rates continue to drop and, as a knock-on effect, take a step closer to normality.
I do think the people of the North East are trying their hardest to stick to the rules. Because that’s the key isn’t it? Being consistent. And we’ve done a great job. The hospitals, although busy, have coped. There are good reasons for this: people are sanitising, they’re wearing masks, they’re trying to keep their distance. All the things we’re being told to do, that you feel are being repeated over and over again, they are so important.
Let’s continue fighting the good fight. Let’s respect the rules, as confining as they are. We must try and keep this virus at bay until, hopefully, the vaccines kick in and do the world a huge favour.”