South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) will benefit from the support of military personnel over the coming weeks.
The Trust has welcomed the support which follows a request to the Ministry of Defence, approved under the Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) principles.
An initial group of 36 personnel from the Royal Logistic Corps have received training from SECAmb and will assist the service by pairing up with a SECAmb clinician for a shift to drive an ambulance.
The cohort will be based out of the Trust’s Gatwick and Polegate operational areas.
The move follows on from SECAmb working with fire services across its region so that a number of firefighters are ready to provide similar support when needed.
The military personnel will work on set shifts in line with patient demand.
The deployment will be scaled back or increased as SECAmb continues to closely monitor pressure on its service.
SECAmb executive director of operations, Joe Garcia, said: “Over recent weeks we have been exploring ways in which we can bolster our frontline response to patients during these difficult times.
“Following on from our continuing work with our fire services, we are very grateful for this additional support from the armed forces.
“Following a short period of familiarisation training these individuals will be ready to team up with a SECAmb clinician for a shift, meaning that we are able to put more ambulances out on the road to respond to our patients.”
Colonel Ian Adkins, Deputy Commander Joint Military Command, South East, said: “Following their familiarisation training, this initial group of military personnel, and a liaison team, will be embedded within South East Coast Ambulance Service.
“They will assist by driving ambulances and supporting the Trust as it continues to care for the most vulnerable during the region’s response to the pandemic.
“We will continue to work closely with the Trust to provide additional personnel if required.”
During the first wave a number of firefighters received special training from SECAmb to provide additional support, including helping to deliver medical supplies and equipment.
SECAmb has been working with the East and West Sussex fire services to provide refresher training, initially to 18 firefighters, to enable them to drive ambulances.