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West Midlands Fire and Ambulance Services have formally agreed to share a number of fire station sites in a move which will see more collaborative working between the two organisations.
It will mean that West Midlands Ambulance Service staff will be able to make use of some fire station facilities.
The agreement was formally signed during the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust Board meeting at Handsworth Community Fire Station on Wednesday 31 October. Ambulances and rapid response vehicles will be based at 34 West Midlands Fire Service sites including its Headquarters in Vauxhall Road, Birmingham.
Steve Vincent, Head of Community Safety at West Midlands Fire Service, said: “At a time when both organisations are under severe financial pressure, it makes sense to share some of our sites and facilities.
“The arrangement means we are able to provide even better value for money to the taxpayer while maintaining the high standards of service that the communities we serve expect. We work together on the ground, so sharing some office space is a beneficial extension of that.”
The initiative will also enable West Midlands Ambulance Service to provide a faster response to an incident, because the number of bases ambulances can use will have increased dramatically.
“Assistance Ambulance Chief Officer Tracey Morrell said: “This shows how far we, as emergency services, have come in co-habiting. Staff from both services have embraced the concept and it is working well. Ambulance service staff enjoy it because they have nice surroundings and have developed a rapport with their fire service colleagues.”
The move is part of West Midlands Ambulance Service’s ‘Make Ready’ project. ‘Make Ready’ was implemented by the former Staffordshire Ambulance Service more than ten years ago, making it one of the most successful ambulance services with some of the fastest response times in England.
The Make Ready programme involves the creation of 24/7 fleet maintenance hubs - in Willenhall, Dudley, West Bromwich, Northfield, Erdington and Coventry - where dedicated teams of Ambulance Fleet Assistants prepare, service and maintain the fleet of ambulances. Oncoming ambulance crews collect their ‘made-ready’ vehicle and go to Community Ambulance Stations from where they respond to 999 calls.
More community ambulance stations are being established across the West Midlands in addition to the arrangements with West Midlands Fire Service. The details of these will be announced in due course.