Hero doctor rescues batch of COVID vaccines from burning health centre

Victoria Bell
·3 min read
Handout photo dated 13/02/21 issued by @AboutTD on Twitter showing Surrey Fire and Rescue Service officers and vehicles at Emberbrook Community Centre, in Raphael Drive, Thames Ditton, which was being used as a vaccination centre but had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the building. Issue date: Saturday February 13, 2021.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service officers and vehicles at Emberbrook Community Centre, which was being used as a vaccination centre but had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the building. (PA)

A hero doctor rescued a container of COVID-19 jabs from a Surrey vaccination centre after a fire broke out.

Emberbrook Community Health Centre in Thames Ditton had to be evacuated on Saturday afternoon after smoke was spotted billowing from the roof of the building.

Six fire engines and an aerial ladder platform were called to the centre to deal with the blaze.

A volunteer described the moment a doctor went back into the building to grab a container full of vaccines and drag them out.

Anne Smith, 68, was volunteering in the car park when she saw smoke rising from the building.

Smith, from Thames Ditton, told Surrey Live: "I could see the smoke but it was on the other side of the roof, I initially thought someone had a fire going at home. But it didn't subside and it was very apparent very quickly [it was not a planned fire] because it stank, I think it was the insulation on fire."

Handout photo dated 13/02/21 issued by @AboutTD on Twitter showing Surrey Fire and Rescue Service officers and vehicles at Emberbrook Community Centre, in Raphael Drive, Thames Ditton, which was being used as a vaccination centre but had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the building. Issue date: Saturday February 13, 2021.
Six fire engines and an aerial ladder platform were called to the centre to deal with the blaze. (PA)
Handout photo dated 13/02/21 issued by @AboutTD on Twitter showing Surrey Fire and Rescue Service officers and vehicles at Emberbrook Community Centre, in Raphael Drive, Thames Ditton, which was being used as a vaccination centre but had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the building. Issue date: Saturday February 13, 2021.
People who had appointments to get vaccines had to be turned away after the blaze broke out. (PA)

Smith said: "One of the doctors who was concerned actually went back in for the vaccine, which I thought was amazing, in a great big refrigerated container he managed to drag it out. It was his priority to get that out."

On Twitter, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said it took less than five minutes for the first fire engine to arrive at the scene.

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

Pictures of the incident show smoke billowing out of the roof of the building.

Surrey Heartlands CCG said the centre was being used as a vaccination site and that the vaccine supply has been secured.

It said: “We apologise to anyone who was booked in for their vaccination this afternoon and wasn’t able to receive it.

Picture taken with permission from the twitter feed of @DMrsdn showing the fire on Saturday at Emberbrook Community Centre, in Raphael Drive, Thames Ditton, which was being used as a vaccination centre but had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the building. Issue date: Sunday February 14, 2021.
On Twitter, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said it took less than five minutes for the first fire engine to arrive at the scene. (PA)

“The next vaccination clinic is due to run on Wednesday and we are hoping to be able to use an alternative location.

“We will contact people who are booked in to have their vaccinations this week as soon as arrangements are confirmed.”

It said Glenlyn (Giggs Hill) Surgery, which is housed in the same building, is planning to operate as usual on Monday.

Those with vaccination appointments who were turned away on Saturday will be contacted to reschedule the bookings.

The next vaccination clinic was due to run on Wednesday (February 17) but Surrey Heartlands CCG said it hopes to use an alternative location on that day.

Watch: How has the UK vaccinated 15m people?