Ahead of the planned return to training for the Reds, week commencing Monday 25th May, we got an update - in his own words - from Head Physiotherapist, Craig Sedgwick who has had a busy week of preparation...
At the start of the week we were given some draft protocols by the EFL at quite short notice really, and as part of those we had to appoint a COVID-19 officer in the club, whose job would be to facilitate the processes going on via the different departments throughout the club.
It’s been difficult really, with very little time to put everything in place that the EFL want us to do, but we’ve worked hard to do it and I think we are there.
As part of the protocols, the players and associated staff have to be tested for the Coronavirus twice a week, so that anyone testing positive wouldn’t be allowed to remain and train or whatever, they’d have to go and self-isolate. And we’ve already done one round of that testing, with the next scheduled for Monday when training is set to restart.
We’ve spent a lot of time on putting in place the relevant social distancing measures around the club, and so it’s very strict now for everyone until we get the go-ahead from the government and the EFL that we can have more contact. Some of these measures include a one-way system in terms of getting about the stadium, extra hand washing facilities, outlining the now inaccessible areas of the buildings. So we expect it’s going to be quite a culture shock for the players and staff in the early phase.
We are all used to being a very close-knit family at the club, with lots of interaction and what have you. But now we’re going to be working in really small groups and those groups will be like that in the short-term, so it’s going to be very different. It’s all about limiting the potential of catching or spreading the virus really.
But it’s been mental, it’s been really full on the last week, and there’s been a massive effort from everyone involved at the club.
A lot of credit must go to our Designated Safeguarding Officer, and now COVID-19 officer, Shaun Selby. He’s really been the driving force, the powerhouse behind everything. He’s had so many policies and occupational health stuff to start writing and he definitely warrants a lot of praise for how I think he’s handled things during what is a very unique and testing period for all of us.
I’ve had Vikki (Stevens) here too this last week and as always, she’s been a massive help, especially in terms of taking on a lot of my responsibilities to enable me to crack on with all these COVID-19 policies we’ve had to implement. It’s basically been the start of a new normal I suppose, and whilst it’s been rushed upon us, I think we’ve done well with things.
Ordering lots and lots of PPE stock was another big challenge, as I’m sure fans can imagine with it being in such high demand. All clubs use the same suppliers for things and so, with the return to training around the corner, it has been tough to get everything you need, but we think we’ve got there, with lots of effort.
As far as we’re concerned as staff and as a club, in the very short timeframe that the EFL gave us, we have put everything they wanted in place. The full safety of returning staff and players is paramount and we’ve made sure that’s the case. But in terms of the protocols we’ve put in place for training, we will have to wait until next week before making a judgment on the success of all that. But we do have a meeting on Wednesday so that after the first couple of days of training we can iron out any issues should some have occurred. If anything doesn’t work right, we will look to amend it then.
The testing procedure went smoothly. We’ve put in a sort-of ‘drive-thru’ facility at the East Stand and the players seemed comfortable enough with it. And it’s important that people are okay about everything. We can’t force anyone on site who isn’t comfortable with what’s going on. It’s their prerogative at the end of the day - they may have family situations for example; but we will be giving everyone a risk assessment questionnaire that will have things on it which will enable people to list any issues that might be causing them anxiety, or anything regarding their personal and social situation that could put them at an increased risk. So that will hopefully give us a club a better idea of how to deal with such issues going forward.
At the end of the day, we all want what is best for everyone and health is so important.
The players I’ve spoken with have all told me they’re very eager to get back to work. They all want the chance to keep us in the division. But it’s got to be safe to do so. And if anyone isn’t comfortable they do not have to be here, and I don’t think anyone could argue against that in these current times.