Awards recognise unsung heroes

17th of November 2023
Awards recognise unsung heroes

From the UK, Lynn Webster reports on the job done by those responsible for hygiene on the front line.

We acknowledge that the cleaning industry is very diverse, providing services across many sectors. An area that can often be overlooked is the contribution made by our armed forces and the various military cadre; the key groups of officers and enlisted personnel necessary to establish and train military units in environmental services.

We see and hear of experiences from active service in the media, reports from war-torn parts of the world, but do we consider the issues of cleanliness and hygiene which are being faced in these areas? Environmental services are a major player at the sharp end; the front line of our armed forces which most of us would never give a second thought for.

Consider here the experience, of setting up hospital camps providing hands-on healthcare; fighting infection outbreaks and supporting the combat troops in seriously hazardous conditions to the addition of their expertise for the health and safety of forces personnel deployed on major humanitarian roles with challenging situations of conflict, austere conditions and extreme situations. These operations are not immune to the same risks experienced in civilian life but have added environment risks alongside the consequences of war - balancing the health risks against the targets of the mission.

The roles include environmental health practitioners who have a vital role in protecting and maintaining healthy conditions - charged with ensuring military effectiveness when faced with infections such as malaria, dysentery or typhoid as well as managing health risks when exposed to the like of Ebola and other emerging health threats (pre and post Covid).

Each year the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners recognises and honours the contribution, excellent achievements and going far beyond their duty of environmental practitioners, technicians and officers. These award winners include those in the combined armed forces including the Navy and Royal Air Force as well as Army, including Sea, Royal Marine, Army and RAF cadets

At these awards I was privileged to meet a major in this field who highlighted in detail recent deployments which included having to handle an outbreak of Leishmaniasis spread through the protozoa in sand flies. Other examples have included arrangements for the setup of a military hospital and provision of drinking water and water hygiene for troops on the ground to sanitation for operations in a jungle environment.  In areas of war the challenge heightens to ensure prevention of non-battle related injuries do not impact of active resources such as MRSA or through an outbreak of D and V.

These are young people mature beyond their years who demonstrate unwavering commitment with some amazing achievements often in difficult conditions. Such life changing experiences set them up with for life skills leadership, in operations and with serious self-motivation. What awesome capabilities they hold and a credit to the professionalism in the cleaning industry.


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