PRELIMINARY work on the building of a new £4.5m ambulance station in Enniskillen has started on the site of the old Erne hospital.
It is expected that the station will be operational by December this year. It will accommodate all current 56 personnel and it will provide garaging facilities for 13 vehicles.
A spokesman for the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) told the Herald that, as a modern, purpose-built and functionally suitable facility, it will provide staff welfare facilities, training and office accommodation and a full garage, providing protection from the weather and therefore preventing icing of vehicles and potential delay of response.
The station also provides storage room for equipment and consumables.
Asked why the old Erne site was selected, the spokesman said it was as the best possible site to serve Enniskillen and surrounding area.
“The old ambulance station was on the site of the Erne hospital and had served well as a central location over the years. However, the facilities there needed modernisation.
“A move to the South West Acute Hospital would have increased response times to central Enniskillen by up to 4 minutes and, as response times are key in emergency situations, a decision was made to remain at the old Erne site.”
He added that deployment of staff to Irvinestown and Lisnaskea would continue, as resources are available, to enhance response in the surrounding area.
The spokesman added: “NIAS welcomes the capital investment to enable this project to continue as it will assist us in delivering highest levels of clinical care supported by a modern fleet replacement and estates development programme.
Asked about workload over the festive period, a NIAS spokesman said he hadn’t had a look at the figures.
“We will be doing that this week. We will be looking at what went on over the Christmas and New Year period, in other words, the volume of calls, the nature of the calls and any challenges we faced in terms of assaults on staff.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition