Crawley ambulance staff welcome Royal visitor

The Countess of Wessex at the opening
The Countess of Wessex at the opening

The Countess of Wessex was welcomed by ambulance service staff in the Crawley sunshine as she attended South East Coast Ambulance Service to officially open the Trust’s new Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and HQ on Manor Royal in Crawley.

Accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, The Countess was given a tour of the EOC where she met and spoke with emergency medical advisors, dispatchers and clinicians yesterday (Tuesday May 8).

The Trust also welcomed The Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brian Quinn, Chief Executive of Crawley Borough Council, Natalie Brahma-Pearl and Crawley MP Henry Smith.

Staff began moving into the new building in May 2017 with staff from the Trust’s former EOC in Lewes the first to relocate. EOC colleagues from the Trust’s former site in Banstead in Surrey moved to the new building in September.

The moves provided greater capacity across two EOCs and ensured SECAmb is better placed to manage current and future demand. It also meant support services were brought under one roof for the first time since the formation of SECAmb in 2006 with the merger of Kent, Surrey and Sussex ambulance services.

The centre, with SECAmb’s other EOC in Coxheath, Kent, typically handles some 2,500 calls every day. The new EOC is home to some 250 staff with a further 250 support staff based on the floor above.

999 calls are answered by emergency medical advisors non-geographically across the Trust’s two EOCs. Ambulances are dispatched locally from each EOC. A team of clinicians are also on hand in each EOC to provide advice and support to patients and colleagues.

SECAmb Chief Executive Daren Mochrie said: “We were delighted to be joined by the Countess and local civic guests for what was a real celebration of the dedicated staff who work in this new premises.

“The day gave us an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who contribute to making this building a reality and I’d like to thank the Countess and everyone for coming to meet staff and see the amazing work they do day-in, day-out.

“Without them, of course, this is just another building. With them, and their dedication and professionalism, we are a service which saves lives and helps people every day.”