Keeping our state safe

Public news

Tasked with a range of COVID-related transport requests throughout the pandemic, MTA member Adelaide Coachlines was recently recognised by SA Health for their hard work and dedication in keeping all involved safe – including us, the public.

Frontline workers have gone above and beyond to keep us safe over the past two years, helping to protect us from COVID-19. However, when giving thanks, we often stop at the doctors and nurses, overlooking all those people working tirelessly behind the scenes to help prevent the spread.

Recently, MTA member Roger Quinsey and his team at Adelaide Coachlines were recognised for their ongoing service to South Australia during the pandemic.

In March last year, Roger’s business was selected by SA Health to provide transport to people arriving at, and within, the state who are considered high-risk for COVID transmission and are required to quarantine.

“Stephen Nesbitt from Explorer Coachlines recommended us to SA Health. The job is shared between the two companies,” Roger explained.

“This job certainly has assisted our business to be able to function, as we’ve lost so much other work when COVID first hit because everything else just stopped – it’s kept us going.”

However, Roger’s day-to-day tasks changed drastically from the usual ferrying of school children and holiday makers.

“During the first outbreak, I was the person who drove around to all the of the nurses and doctors’ homes and collected all those people who had come into contact with the first lady in the Lyell McEwin Hospital and took them into quarantine,” he recalled.

“It was a bit of a daunting thing, because it was all very new, but I knew it had to be done.”

To be able to carry out their work safely, Roger’s drivers have been professionally trained in the latest PPE and sanitising procedures by SA Health.

“One of the journeys we’ve done has been as far as Paringa in the Riverland − just the other side of Renmark − moving people from overseas there so that they were able to perform picking duties at the end of their quarantine,” Roger said.

“Fitting of masks was a very important part of our training, due to the timeframe that we were in the vehicle with those people coming through.

“Our drivers are required to sanitise the internal part of the vehicle; that means wiping all the touch points, and then we fog the vehicle with a TGA-approved product to sanitise the internal parts of the vehicle − the seatbelts, the seats, and the air-conditioning system as well.”

While the Adelaide Coachlines team were fully trained to keep their passengers safe from the virus, they quickly realised that this was not the only service they needed to provide.

Part of the job involves transporting quarantined people on compassionate grounds, whether it be for end-of-life visits or to attend funerals.

“It has been very interesting work. Some of it is almost along the lines of a counselling process,” said Roger.

“I’ve done medi-hotel work personally, nearly every day. You get to talk to these people − they’re isolated and they just don’t know who else to talk to, so they talk to you on the bus.

“I had one gentleman for seven days, and he did seven days of visits to the QEH to visit his mother. I saw all the emotions that he went through.

“We had different discussions from the hotel to the hospital, and the same for the return. The emotion on the way home is often quite different to the one on the way down.”

Roger’s drivers have all had to navigate difficult interactions like this since the job began last year.

“Bus drivers are fairly compassionate people, they are ‘people-people’, and it is an extension of what they normally do,” Roger explained.

“Once you’ve had a few of those conversations, you understand better how to deal with it. You just talk to those people like they’re people.

“It has made what has been quite a hard task reasonably rewarding. To play a part in their life at a time when things aren’t very good for them.”

Roger and his teams’ hard work has been acknowledged by the Chief Public Health Officer for SA Health.

“I was asked to attend a meeting with the other contractor from Explorer Coachlines,” said Roger.

“Nicola Spurrier and six of her senior staff members came down to the Explorer Coachlines depot, where they thanked us for the work that we had done.

“They were very thankful for the effort and the dedication of our staff in keeping the vehicles clean and sanitised.

“It was pleasing to receive that, and also to be able to bring that back into the workplace and offer her words to our staff, to say keep up the good work.”

Roger would especially like to thank Stephen Nesbitt from Explorer Coachlines for his assistance in securing this job for Adelaide Coachlines.

He would also like to remind members to adhere to any safety directions offered by public health professionals.

“The wearing of masks and continual sanitising of hands is the absolute best thing we could do to contain this outbreak in the way we have, and that’ll get us through,” Roger said.