The Prince of Wales has learned a trick to prevent his glasses from steaming up while wearing a face mask during a visit to a fire station.
Charles met personnel from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Devon and Cornwall Police and South Western Ambulance Service at Middlemoor Fire Station in Exeter, Devon.
He heard 45 firefighters in the south-west have retrained as ambulance drivers since April,to assist paramedics through the coronavirus pandemic.
The firefighters, wearing their usual uniform and accompanied by a paramedic, have responded to more than 4,500 calls since the scheme began.
Charles was told one firefighter, who is starting a new job with the ambulance service on Monday, helped to deliver a baby on a call.
He told paramedics how “hot” wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is, adding “your glasses steam up” while wearing a face mask.
Derek McCullough, who was responsible for setting up the scheme, said: “He had to wear a mask last week and he said it was hot.
“We gave him a trick that if he rubs washing up liquid or a bar of soap on the inside of the glasses and wipes it clean with a cleaning cloth, the glycerine acts as a barrier on the lens.
“He said he is going to go and do that to his glasses so they don’t steam up.”
Mr McCullough, who has been working for South Western Ambulance Service for 30 years, told Charles how wearing PPE and decontaminating vehicles between patients made each job longer.
He said the scheme, which began on April 15 and will run until the end of August, was set up in just two weeks after modelling suggested the ambulance service would be unable to cope with demand due to coronavirus.
The service bought 15 ambulances to be dual-crewed by a paramedic and a firefighter in the south-west.
“We made a conscious decision that firefighters would wear their uniform to show our collaboration,” Mr McCullough said.
“Patients do ask why there is a firefighter and it has been really well received.”
Since the scheme began, five firefighters have applied to join the ambulance service, he added.
He paid tribute to staff who “put themselves on the front line” during the pandemic.
Mark Evans, 41, a retained firefighter, told Charles how he delivered a baby during a shift as an ambulance driver.
Mr Evans, who has two daughters and a stepdaughter, was with a paramedic when they were called to a home near Glastonbury.
“We were there for six to seven minutes before the baby arrived,” he said.
“I told Prince Charles that I didn’t have to blue light drive with one of my kids but I had to get there sharpish.
“That was the only time I’ve been involved in delivering a baby – but I was a lot more involved this time.”
Mr Evans will begin work with the ambulance service as an emergency care assistant on Monday.
Charles was also told firefighters have been conducting fit testing for both colleagues and those working with the ambulance service.
The fire department also co-ordinated volunteering across the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum areas and provided support for fire safety at the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter.
Staff also made face-to-face contact with 54 people who were shielding in Plymouth and attended their homes to ensure they were receiving support.