Source: Mayor of London
Mayor opens new ambulance training centre that will boost capacity in taking life-saving emergency calls
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today unveiled a new hi-tech training centre which will help enable London Ambulance Service to train more emergency call handlers and boost its vital service to Londoners during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new training centre in Barking will help London Ambulance Service build greater capacity to take potentially life-saving calls as well as enhancing the NHS 111 service for east London.
By the end of the year, 155 emergency call handlers will have trained at the new interactive 999 training centre and be ready to take emergency calls from the public. An additional 150 ambulances have also been added to the capital’s streets to help the service deal with the expected rise in demand in the months ahead.
During the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, Londoners were making around 11,000 emergency calls a day for an ambulance, compared to an average of 5,500 a day before the onset of the pandemic, an increase of 100 per cent. Calls to the 111 service in north east and south east London also tripled at the busiest period.
Paramedics responded to the unprecedented demand day and night throughout the capital, with many making difficult personal sacrifices. More than 160 London Ambulance Service medics, emergency call handlers and support staff were separated from their families for more than a month, moving into temporary accommodation so they could remain on the frontline to help Londoners.
More than 700 volunteers, former members of staff, student paramedics and others came forward to help with the covid-19 response, together with 399 London firefighters who drove ambulances or administered first aid. A new additional control room dedicated to receiving covid-19 emergency calls was set up in Waterloo and staffed by 130 student paramedics in March whilst Transport for London and the AA also joined the effort to help London Ambulance Service cope with the extraordinary levels of demand and keep ambulances on the road.
The Mayor of London toured the new training centre today and met some of the dedicated frontline paramedics and emergency and urgent care staff working hard day and night to keep the capital safe. He took the opportunity to thank the London Ambulance Service for their dedication and commitment during the pandemic.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “On behalf of all Londoners, I want to thank the paramedics, the emergency call handlers, the volunteers and all the staff at London Ambulance Service for their incredible service to our city throughout the biggest public health crisis we have seen in our lifetime.
“It has been one of the busiest periods in the service’s history and they have risen to the unprecedented challenge, putting the needs of Londoners ahead of their own so they could be there on the frontline when we needed them. We will never forget that.
“This new training centre will help boost the number of emergency call handlers in the months ahead, making it easier for Londoners to access urgent and emergency care. Our health services are planning for a busy winter but Londoners can play their part to ensure those who need it most get the right help. Anyone faced with a life-threatening emergency should of course continue to call 999 but if you are looking for reassurance or advice, please visit 111 online or book an appointment online with your GP. The only we can only control this virus if we work together.”
Garrett Emmerson, London Ambulance Service Chief Executive, said: “This new centre is a great illustration of how we have scaled up operations to meet the pressure created by the Coronavirus pandemic while continuing to plan for the future and ensure we remain a world-class ambulance service.
“These safe, COVID-19 compliant facilities will hugely enhance our training for 999 and 111 call handlers and will also help staff meet the challenges of the winter months and any potential surges in COVID-19.
“We couldn’t have achieved any of this without personal sacrifices of our incredible staff and volunteers, as well as the generous collaboration of many of our partner organisations and I would like to thank them for their dedication.”
Melissa Goes, Trainee Emergency Ambulance Crew, lived in a hotel during the pandemic for four months to shield from her dad who has cancer. She said: “It was a stressful time. There were so many calls and of course you do worry about catching it yourself but you put patients first. But most of all I remember how the Service pulled together and how appreciated I felt by the public. People would come up in the street and say ‘thanks’ and offer you a cold drink. I got to know my colleagues so much better because of it.
“I feel so proud working for the ambulance service and being able to play my part in fighting this virus. Also it’s so great now to have a kitchen after four months in a hotel with pot noodles! I can also enjoy my rest days a lot more.”