An East Midlands Ambulance Service official has defended a decision to move Louth crews to share the town’s fire station later this year as a ‘no brainer’.
The move is part of the ‘Blue Light Collaboration’ which has been drawn up by the Government and supported by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Lincolnshire County Council.
Louth will be the first in the county to roll out the new joint collaboration between emergency services.
However, the plan has attracted opposition from some Louth residents.
An EMAS employee, who did not want to be named, has also contacted the Leader to claim some crews did not want to move, adding it was purely based on financial reasons.
However, EMAS locality manager Richard Hunter defends the plans.
In an exclusive interview, he said: “This new initiative is government led and seems to be the best decision overall.
“We were invited to move into the fire station in Eastfield Road and I feel it’s a no brainer.”
The employee of Louth Ambulance Station explained staff were ‘perfectly happy’ with the present building and the facilities and said it was sited in an ‘ideal location’.
However, Mr Hunter explained that bringing the existing 25-year-old ambulance station to the level to meet Care Quality Commission (CQC) requirements would need an initial investment of £100,000.
He confirmed an additional £30,000 a year was required for the upkeep of the building, with funding coming from taxpayers. Mr Hunter added: “Following an inspection by the CQC, it was outlined that £100,000 would need to be spent to get our ambulance station building back up to standard.
“At the end of the day, it’s public money and even if we spent the money, the facilities at Louth Fire Station are better.
“To join forces with the fire station, helps us to save money - cash that can be pumped back into the system and used to help the public in emergency situations.”
The ambulance station, which is situated on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, has better access to the A16.
However, Mr Hunter pointed out crews are rarely at the station for long periods.
He added: “EMAS is now very much a mobile care provider. The crews may set off from the ambulance station, but when they are on shift they’re practically out for the whole time and it’s rare that they return.
“I appreciate there has been concerns with the new location but when we’re based in Eastfield Road which is hugely populated, at least if something happens we will be close by.
“At the end of the day, I know some employees are unhappy and I appreciate that moving out of a premises which some have been in for years can be daunting.
“But, the new facilities are very impressive.
“We are not just moving in and being made to feel like visitors. This will be our home too.
“Additional money will be spent on the building to cater for our specific needs.
“Some new re-branding will be undertaken to show the premises is the home of both Louth Ambulance Service and Louth Fire Service.
“This is the right decision.”
The move is set to take place in July. A special open evening is planned so members of the public can see the new changes.