Ambulance service gears up for winter

New vehicles arrive to bolster fleet

After battling through one of the toughest winters of modern times last year, the North East Ambulance Service has drafted in some new 4x4 Rapid Response vehicles ahead of the coming months.

Twelve BMW 4x4 estates have been added to the NEAS fleet, and will be fitted with special tyres to provide improved traction on snow and ice.

The new vehicles will begin operating this month.

Row of BMWs

 

Geoff Craick, Operational Support Manager, said: "Last year the weather was phenomenally bad. The severe frost and snow made reaching certain parts of the region very difficult indeed.  However, the awful conditions did provide us with the opportunity to try some new ways of working.

"The BMWs were selected following a tough evaluation process, and we are confident they have the specifications required to cope with a tough winter."

Once again, NEAS vehicles will carry special snow socks, which can be pulled over the tyres of some fleet vehicles top provide better traction.

Arrangements have also been put in place for extra support from voluntary organisations such as St John's Ambulance Service and The Red Cross should conditions demand it.

In November 2010 the North East suffered heavy snowfall, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -16. This left many routes in a treacherous condition, while snow drifts also hampered vehicles.

Snow

The severe cold weather lasted through until January 2011, with the Christmas period NEAS's busiest ever.

Emergency incidents dealt with by the North East Ambulance Service rocketed to unprecedented levels in December 2010- up by more than 1,000 for the same period the previous year.

The busiest spell was the five hours from 10pm Boxing Day, with NEAS receiving 1,317 calls. That's 842 more calls than the same time period in 2009, representing a 177% increase in 999 ambulance demand.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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