London & South East

Ready for anything: new depots for the South East Coast Ambulance service

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The South East Coast Ambulance service (SECAmb)  is looking forward to the completion of two new facilities in Kent, which will help the service to run as efficiently and effectively as possible.

These new depots are purpose-built Make Ready Centres on Eldon Way in Tonbridge, and in the Orbital Business Park in Ashford.

Work began on the Make Ready Centre in Ashford began in April 2011, and is due for completion in December. It has been designed by Murphy Philipp’s Architects and the main contractor on the project is Kier South East (who also put in a bid for the design and build contract for the Tonbridge depot).

The building at Ashford is a flat-roofed, two-storey structure, which will also house a training centre and related staff facilities and offices. Additional outside facilities will include sixty car-parking spaces and fuelling facilities. Outer facing is in brickwork with aluminium-framed windows and steel roller-shutter doors and glazed doors.

In the 1990s it was found that the site of the new Ashford depot held some interesting secrets, as trial-trenching unearthed evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements. In line with a subsequent planning condition from Ashford Borough Council, a more extensive archaeological excavation and investigation was carried out in 2010. SECAmb have said that the completed depot building will contain references to this important findings.

Meanwhile, work on the Make Ready Depot in Tonbridge commenced in January 2011 and is set to be completed this October. The structure will house thirty-six vehicle parking bays, associated offices, staff facilities and storage.

Response posts in both new depots will provide a base for staff with suitable facilities.

These Make Ready centres are an award-winning initiative for the SECAmb NHS Foundation trust, which is designed to allow specialist staff to use their skills more efficiently. Traditionally it is the task of the ambulance crew to re-stock and clean ambulances at the beginning and ending of every day. However, under this new scheme, ambulances will be returned to a Make Ready Centre at the end of every shift, where it will be handed over to specialist cleaning staff who will prepare the ambulance for its next use.

It is hoped that this new system will mean that ambulance clinicians can spend the maximum amount of time treating patients in the very best environment. Efficiency and cleanliness will be maintained to a high standard, with the ambulances being regularly swabbed for micro-organism contamination such as the so-called superbug MRSA.

The depots have been located according to patient-demand in the area and will serve ambulance crews from Ashford, Dover, Folkstone and Lydd.

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