Boris Johnson hails ‘heroic efforts’ of Northern Ireland’s paramedics

Boris Johnson has commiserated with a young paramedic after hearing his Tenerife holiday plans had been cancelled after the island was added to the quarantine list.

Darryl Dickson, an emergency medical technician, caught the Prime Minister’s attention as he toured the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service on the outskirts of Belfast.

Arriving at the Knockbracken site after political meetings at Hillsborough Castle, Mr Johnson thanked Mr Dickson, who started his career last November and had been working on the front line throughout the pandemic, remarking on the challenges of wearing full personal protective equipment.

Boris Johnson visits Belfast
Boris Johnson visits Belfast

“Was it stressful? I bet it was,” Mr Johnson asked him, before expressing his sympathies to hear Mr Dickson’s grandmother had battled the virus.

“She was in the high dependency unit and she was told she had only 24 hours to live, and she actually made it through,” he told the Prime Minister.

Asked if he had any breaks planned, Mr Dickson said: “I was supposed to go to Tenerife tomorrow,” to which Mr Johnson replied: “Oh no, and we just put it on the quarantine list, I’m sorry about that.”

The Prime Minister was shown around the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service headquarters site, meeting a number of paramedics who he thanked for their work.

Boris Johnson visits Belfast
Boris Johnson visits Belfast

Mindful of social distancing rules, Mr Johnson elbow-bumped staff as he met them before donning a black face covering as he entered buildings or vehicles.

At one stage he remarked to media that it was the first interview he had given while wearing a mask, and also joked he was relieved to be “out of the office” and able to move around the UK.

“It is ridiculous but it has got to be done,” he said, referring to the mask.

Mr Johnson described his visit as a chance to congratulate paramedics and thank them for the “heroic efforts” that they have gone to.

Boris Johnson visits Belfast
Boris Johnson visits Belfast

“They have been working flat-out, you can see that it was difficult, particularly in the heat and when people didn’t really know what kind of a disease they were facing,” he said.

“I think where we are now, unquestionably we are in a lull in the whole of the UK, but I think everyone knows, all those brilliant teams out there, they know fine well that this thing can come back and so my message is all about trying to maintain that social distancing and maintain the discipline that has brought us such successes that we have had in getting the virus down.”