Paramedics claim the proposed closure of ambulance stations throughout Amber Valley could put lives at risk.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) wants to replace 16 ambulance stations in Derbyshire, including Ripley, Alfreton, Ilkeston and Belper, with two super-centres, or “hubs”, in Derby and Chesterfield, and about 30 standby posts where staff can take breaks and restock.
They are also considering creating Community Ambulance Posts in Ripley and Heanor, where ambulances would share facilities with other emergency services like fire or police.
Now staff from Ripley, Alfreton Belper and Ilkeston are planning a public march on November 24 in Ripley to protest and collect signatures for their petition.
An Alfreton paramedic, who declined to be named, said: “Our aim is to raise public awareness of the closures and put a case forward for a “Hub Station” on the outskirts of Ripley, north of Ripley being central to the already proposed two hub stations EMAS are prepared to build. If it snows in Derby or Chesterfield, nothing gets out of Derby or Chesterfield. Having all your eggs in one basket - north and south - potentially means putting the lives of the public in the Amber Valley at risk.
East Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive Phil Milligan said: “The changes we are proposing are all about helping us get to life-threatening calls faster. To provide the fastest response possible, we have to make simple decisions. Do we spend our money on buildings or frontline services? Do we design services to cut out the waste, so that our clinicians have more time to spend on patient care?”
He added that the Community Ambulance Posts, standby points and hubs would be “sited according to where they are most able to respond to calls received. This is based on information across a number of systems as well as local knowledge of road networks and requirements. We expect that the new sites will be flexible and close to the existing areas and that there will be more of them.”
But the paramedic warned: “Distance takes time. It’s all well and good saying we will have more tactical standby points but if all the resources start and get sucked into the city of Derby the stand-by points will all be empty.
“The lives of the people of Amber Valley could be put at risk if this campaign fails to secure a Ripley hub station.”