Express & Star comment: What is a key worker?
There has been much debate in recent weeks over precisely what constitutes a key worker.
NHS staff clearly fall into that category, as do shop workers and school staff, as well as many other jobs that have proven to be crucial in keeping the country going during these dark days.
In some respects the crisis has led us to re-evaluate many of the roles we take for granted. That could certainly include those who take calls for our emergency services.
Under normal circumstances the job is high pressure, with call handlers tasked with working out what is happening and dispatching the appropriate service.
All of this needs to happen as quickly as possible.
Any unnecessary delay or failure to record the correct information can hinder the response of the fire service, police or paramedics. It can potentially cost lives.
Hundreds of calls are dealt with on each shift. Each one might well be insignificant. It might just be a matter of life or death.
The current crisis the country finds itself in has brought this role into sharp focus.
Hundreds of people across the West Midlands have lost their lives to Covid-19. As things stand, it remains uncertain as to when the situation is likely to start to improve.
It is evident that as the situation becomes more desperate, more people will be needed to deal with the increasing number of calls coming through to our emergency services.
West Midlands Ambulance Service urgently needs 600 new operators to cope with the demand, with recruits set to be trained how to handle 999 and 111 calls.
Once trained and in the field, they will play a vital role in helping to defeat this virus.
The fact that it is not the only ambulance trust in the country to embark on such a recruitment drive tells us all we need to know about the added strain that our emergency services are being put under.
To all the people who take up these new positions, we wish you well.