A DALLAM hero who stepped up at the height of the pandemic to be a Covid call handler has been left ‘infuriated’ at the news of the alleged Downing Street party.

Warrington residents reflected on what they were doing on May 20, 2020, the same date that more than 100 Downing Street staff were invited to a ‘bring your own booze’ garden party.

At this time, the rest of the country was banned from meeting more than one person at a time from outside of their household outdoors.

Around this period, Jemma Keenan, a student paramedic at the time, was answering Covid calls on the NHS 111 line – dealing with up to 60 calls a day in a single shift.

Jemma had started a student paramedic degree at Edge Hill University in September 2019

But as the pandemic began, the students were sent home as they were told university was temporarily suspended.

Around April 2020, Jemma received an email from North West Ambulance Service asking if any of the students wanted to take up a role in the NHS 111 service.

The 31-year-old said: “I jumped at the chance.

“At first, we didn’t realise that it was the coronavirus line, they just said NHS 111 call handling.

“But when we got there, we were all put on the Covid line – dealing with anyone experiencing any kind of Covid symptoms.

“When we first started, we were taking 60 calls each day in a single shift.”

Jemma, who put her full time job as an emergency medical technician temporarily on hold to take on this role, was based at Bolton.

Herself and other students were taken off the road and seconded to the 111 role.

Jemma said the job was ‘overwhelming’ at first.

“It was strange because when you answered the phone you could hear who had Covid and who didn’t,” Jemma added.

“The sound of voices of people with Covid were very hollow.”

One particularly ‘tough’ call that stands out to Jemma is when she spoke to the daughter of an elderly man from Liverpool.

She answered a call from his daughter regarding her dad who was suffering with Covid which resulted in Jemma having to call an ambulance.

A few days later, the same woman rang and Jemma recognised her voice.

She confirmed that her dad had since passed away and she was now calling on behalf of her mum.

Jemma’s role on the NHS covid line lasted around 12 weeks and she has since secured a role as an emergency medical technician at North West Ambulance Service.

Warrington Guardian: Jemma's nine-year-old daughter, Eva-Rose Gannon, has been inspired to become a paramedic.

Jemma's nine-year-old daughter, Eva-Rose Gannon, has been inspired to become a paramedic.

Jemma said: “It was an experience, it was very insightful.

“You get to see the whole process before that ambulance is called.

“I had people that had symptoms but were okay to look after themselves at home.

“But some people maybe had pains in their chest or were experiencing head cold type things.

“There were people who were also really struggling for breath – these were transferred to 999 emergencies.”

During this time, like many other people across the country, Jemma was unable to see her family and friends.

As well as working as an NHS 111 Covid assessor, Jemma was also caring for her grandparents as she had done for the past 16 years.

She did tests every day to make sure she wasn’t bringing coronavirus home to them.

When the email proving that Downing Street had garden party drinks at the height of lockdown came to light this week, Jemma was ‘infuriated’.

She said: “To know that we followed the rules and had been seconded into a different role while everyone else just does what they link – it is just the injustice of it all.

“The fact that there were people out there who were putting themselves forward to pick up roles that were necessary because of Covid, and they were just out there partying.”

Jemma believes there is ‘nothing’ that the government can do to make up for this.

“But we are the ones that can be proud that we filled in when it was necessary to do so.”

Jemma received commendation from North West Ambulance Service which thanked her for stepping up and stepping in when they needed people to.

Her nine-year-old daughter, Eva-Rose Gannon, has been inspired to become a paramedic.