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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Ambulance calls landmark reached
Ambulance dispatch centre
The new system has cut response times
A two-year modernisation scheme aimed at cutting ambulance response times has been completed.

By 2008, ambulance crews will have to reach two-thirds of all 999 calls within eight minutes.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm opened the last of the new emergency medical dispatch centres on Monday.

The Paisley unit has already been in action, co-ordinating a fleet of ambulances sent to the factory blast in Maryhill earlier this month.

It employs 80 workers and handles calls for the west and south west of Scotland.

The same number of calls are coming through to ambulance crews in general but the important thing now is that that the emergency calls and urgent calls do come through a whole lot quicker
Andy Moir
Paramedic officer
The Scottish Ambulance Service has hailed the 22m revamp a success.

Managers said the new control centres and call prioritisation had already cut a minute off average response times.

Director of operations Phil Spence said: "Shaving a whole minute off ambulance response times is absolutely vital.

"There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the faster you get to someone, particularly if they've got chest pain or a heart attack, the better their chance of survival and really after 12 minutes those chances go down a great deal."

Lanarkshire-based paramedic officer Andy Moir said the new system of prioritising calls was proving successful.

Map
Calls are being prioritised
He said: "The same number of calls are coming through to ambulance crews in general but the important thing now is that the emergency calls and urgent calls do come through a whole lot quicker."

Mr Moir said the new system proved effective when crews received calls to the Maryhill explosion.

"I was there very early on in the incident and the back-up we got from the emergency control centre and the support service for the ambulance service was tremendous and it made a big difference to us on the day," he said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Eleanor Bradford reports
"The whole modernisation programme has cost 22m"



SEE ALSO:
Ambulance calls graded
01 Aug 02  |  Scotland
'Think before you call' plea
10 Feb 03  |  England
Fire engine sent to dying man
29 Jul 02  |  England


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