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Emergency services / Revamped fire and ambulance station gets official launch

Celebrating joint-up working in Shetland's emergency services were Scottish Fire and Rescue service chief officer Martin Blunden (second from left), community safety minister Ash Denham (centre) and NHS Scotland chief executive Pauline Howie (second from right). They were joined by ambulance paramedic Daniel Mainland (left) and fire fighter Andy Hunter (right).

THE REFURBISHED Lerwick Fire Station which now also houses the local ambulance service has received its official launch.

Fire fighters and ambulance staff have shared the premises since last year and chiefs have previously praised the new collaboration.

The refurbishment work was undertaken between June and September 2018, with the bill – shared between the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Government – coming in at £350,000.

The revised layout of the building, a stone’s throw from the Tesco supermarket, was planned in consultation with both the fire and ambulance teams.

Community safety minister Ash Denham is in Shetland to launch the refurbished station and she said the facility “establishes a modern, integrated, efficient and effective way of working that benefits the people at the heart of our island communities”.

“It’s a great example of joined up working between our emergency services, and I look forward to more of this type of initiative to enable our public services to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland,” she added.

Nearly 25 retained personnel from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are based at the site respond to over 200 calls per year.

The ambulance service was previously based at Montfield but the headquarters were deemed to be cramped for staff.

Then-MSP Tavish Scott said in 2015 that staff conditions were “lamentable”, with the fire station mooted then as a possible home.

Around 2,200 calls per year are handled by 18 ambulance staff and four part-time patient transport service personnel who work from Sea Road.

The former Lerwick fire station has now become the Lerwick Community Fire & Ambulance Station. Photo: Shetland News

Scottish Fire and Rescue service chief officer Martin Blunden said: “This tremendous facility, which serves mainland Shetland and its outer islands, allows both emergency services to plan, prepare and respond in an effective and cohesive way, for both local needs and to operational incidents, to ensure local communities are well protected.

“The benefits are already tangible as we know that joint training over the last year has improved awareness and understanding of each other’s capabilities and protocols. It’s exciting to be in Shetland and to see this project in action.”

Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive Pauline Howie added that the new station is the “result of considerable hard work and the station has been reconfigured and designed to meet all the Ambulance Service needs”.

“It is a significant improvement that supports ongoing operational and clinical skills development and the facilities are of the highest quality and meet all of the stringent NHS hygiene standards,” she said.

“This co-location development is part of an investment strategy to upgrade our stations across the country and to support more joined up working between partners. The new station also supports the needs of our staff and patients by delivering the highest standards of clinical care, as well as providing a multipurpose hub for the local community.”