The next essential service

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Published: 07 December 2020


Ben Bartle-Ross on the role the industry's engineers have to play on the road to recovery from the pandemic.

So we now see at least three potential vaccines on the horizon and it is just possible that we can find a way out of the Covid nightmare that has already taken so many lives and put the rest of us on hold.

Whilst it is unlikely that we will get back to any sort of ‘normal’ before late spring or early summer next year, I have been amazed at just how resilient society has been and how we have all found ways to adapt.

Yes, of course the world will take time to recover and there are many, many challenges and dangers on the way. The global economy is in a seriously dire situation and on a personal level, many people have really struggled with loneliness and mental issues.

Unsung heroes
But we have found ways to adapt and for me, the pandemic has also given society time to pause and reflect on what is, and what is not, important.

We saw footage of Italians singing on their balconies in the early spring and then we had our own collective moment here in the UK, with the weekly clap for the NHS.

This become a moment when we all, collectively, recognised the value of those unsung heroes who are there to look after us when we are ill, or old, or infirm. 

A few months on and it is easy to forget how essential these essential workers still are, but they remain there in the background working to keep us safe and tend to us in our hour of need.

What’s this got to do with air conditioning I can see you thinking? 

Well, let’s go back to those vaccines for a moment shall we and we can find some other ‘unsung heroes’ of our own?

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine needs to be kept at temperatures colder than Antarctica (-70°C) and even the Moderna vaccine needs to be kept frozen, but only at -20°C, which is more like a regular freezer.

Either way, distribution presents quite a challenge and this will require refrigeration and that, as we all know, requires the dedicated skills of an F-Gas engineer.  

Into the spotlight
Our industry has a job to do to help with the storage and distribution of the vaccines to enable the world to recover. 

Whilst we can all applaud this, hopefully this will also allow our industry to step into the spotlight, albeit for a moment. 

Of course, what we do is seldom a matter of life and death in the way that care workers or NHS staff are. But refrigeration and air conditioning are at the heart of modern life and everything would be harder without the fridges to store drugs and food, or the air conditioning to keep our buildings comfortable whether they are in the Sahara or Antarctica.

So, let’s all pause for a moment and give ourselves a collective pat on the back.
We don’t directly save lives but we do enable modern life to continue and for me, that does make us an essential service – keeping the building services going.

Ben Bartle-Ross is a technical trainer at Mitsubishi Electric