Coronavirus: Military Personnel Train To Drive Oxygen Tankers As Lockdown Begins

One hundred and fifty military personnel have begun training to drive oxygen tankers to help supply the NHS if required, as the country goes into a three-week lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak.

The tri-service personnel are being taught the skills in the space of just a week in response to the worsening COVID-19 situation. The training usually takes a month.

"[It is] absolutely critical that at this stage we can supply those chemicals to the NHS in order to sustain the first aid that's required to casualties as they go to the hospitals," Colour Sergeant Nick Barber, from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, told Forces News.

"Without the ability to supply the essential chemicals, the oxygen...then there could be a real crisis on our hands."  

It comes as the British Army begins delivering personal protective equipment to frontline NHS staff battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Fifty military personnel are helping to deliver the equipment, however, that figure is expected to rise to more than 460.

150 tri-service military personnel are learning how to drive the vehicles.
150 tri-service military personnel are learning how to drive the vehicles.

While the military has experience in driving vehicles of similar size to the oxygen tankers, it is the chemicals they carry that make it more complicated.

"When you brake, the liquids can move from side to side, so that can affect the vehicle and the steering as well," said Lance Corporal Peter Mimson, 42 Commando, Royal Marines. 

The personnel, who are being taught by oxygen company Air Products in Carrington, Greater Manchester, will practise driving the vehicles to tanks and various locations later this week. 

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