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999 crews beat targets after radical response shake-up
THE county’s emergency ambulance and paramedic crews are among the best in the West Midlands as 999 demands on them soar.
Herefordshire is the highest performing rural area within the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) – even outstripping target response times achieved by crews in Birmingham and the Black Country – and only months after implementing a new system of countywide emergency cover.
Three years ago, a report revealed a shortage of vehicles and frontline staff working from outdated stations had stretched the service’s safety net across the county to breaking point, with the risk of crucial response times not being met when the pressure was on.
The service’s own response was Make Ready, an emergency cover system that moved ambulance crews out to community response points from a new £500,000 “superstation” in Hereford.
Statistics show that so far Make Ready has seen the county’s crews reach 79 per cent of emergency calls within the eight minute target time, when the percentage expected is 75.
This achievement is despite a big increase in the need for emergency responses with 4,486 red or “threat to life” calls in the county over the six months since April – an average of nearly 750 a month.
Other categories of call, over the same period, total 6,300 – an average of 1,050 a month.
Barry Thurston, director of service delivery with WMAS, said much of the success, over a relatively short space of time, was down to the “fantastic” response of the county’s crews to Make Ready, against a background of community and some inhouse concern about what it might mean for cover.
“Everybody understood why it was being done and got on with getting it done as activity went through the roof. Herefordshire is now the highest performing rural area in the service and is even out-performing Birmingham and the Black Country,” he said.
Make Ready in action throughout Herefordshire
In offering 24/7 cover Make Ready is as much about resource management as it is emergency responses.
Crews start their shift at the Hereford hub where fleet assistants have cleaned and fully stocked ambulances ready to go.
The crews are sent out to response points serving designated high demand call areas across the county. It is intended to ensure every response point has cover available should its designated crew be engaged on a call or at hospital.
Community paramedics in fast response vehicles work out of the Hereford hub and each of the market towns.
They are often the first sent to a call to assess resources needed with support, in turn, from community first responders.
Minor injuries units, GPs and other healthcare providers come into the fold to help treat patients at home or close to home as options allow.