Beth Doherty talks to Tracy Daszkiewicz on how she coped with the Novichok attack.
Working as Director of Public Health and Safety for Wiltshire in 2018, Tracy Daszkiewicz was thrown into a national emergency. Tracy played a leading role in response to the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, which could have had an even more detrimental effect on the people of Salisbury.
“What drove my passion to keep the people of Salisbury safe during the Novichok attack is the same thing that drove me to get into public health. I started my career working in HIV, where I gained a huge interest in health inequality.
“It is about health protection and keeping people safe, working closely with communities and things that matter to them.
“The privilege I had during the attack was that I worked with different groups heavily impacted by the situation and they invited me into their lives and enabled me to support them, which is a massive thing. For me, having that interaction with a community that is my own is so fantastic,” said Tracy.
When handling the poisonings in 2018, Tracy had to balance looking after people and her son.
“It’s always a juggling act being a mum and many brilliant parents are doing that every day. You just draw on the support around you because sometimes you have to prioritise work.
“Children learn so much from being brought into our working lives. It exposes them to our communities in a different way, and it gives them aspirations and work ethic. It’s really hard but it is really positive.”
Tracy tells me a job in public health is an opportunity to work closely with a huge range of people, professionally and personally.
“For those juggling home and work life thinking ‘have I the capacity to do both?’, I think you can. Work-life balance matters to employers now, and Covid has taught us how we can rely on technology, to be less nine-to-five and more flexible,” Tracy added.
Tracy’s story was one of the key narratives in the BBC drama ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’, but what did she think of the three-part series?
“For me, there is fear and tragedy in that story, but it shows more than anything just how great people are when they need to be. Communities can come together to support one another, and it has been seen again and again during Covid how people stand together around a collective aim. It is just incredible.”
It’s that message for which Tracy is grateful.
“I thank the communities, not just in Wiltshire, but right across the country, standing together.”