16th February 2015
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The innovative new ASOC is part of the impressive £210 million SkyPark scheme, and is the base for the Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART). There are two well established HART teams across the area served by SWASFT; one in Bristol and one in Exeter. This base for the Exeter team was chosen owing to its location, its proximity to the M5 and easy access to the large geographical area it serves.

HART teams consist of trained paramedics, who have an additional set of skills and specialist equipment at their disposal. They are able to reach and treat patients under a variety of challenging circumstances. Examples of scenarios where a HART team may be deployed include; incidents in water, those which have occurred at a high level, underground or in confined spaces, during a major incident or a multiple car road traffic collision, or a situation involving hazardous substances.

The introduction of HART is part of a national initiative. Every ambulance service in the country has its own HART teams at their disposal and they play a key role in many incidents.

The Chief Executive of SWASFT, Ken Wenman, is delighted that the HART base received a royal visitor and said: “It is a real honour that HRH The Princess Royal is officially opened our Exeter HART base. The team attend a wide variety of incidents, playing an important role in the Somerset floods and severe weather of 2014. Often these incidents are challenging and distressing, and it is fantastic that we have such an excellent opportunity to showcase the good work of the team and indeed all of our staff. The ASOC is a very impressive facility that fulfils both training and operational requirements in an excellent strategic location.”

The Trust’s Chairman, Heather Strawbridge added: “Many patients are already benefitting from the introduction of the HART teams, which are a greatly valued addition to the ambulance service workforce. Receiving such high profile attention from a member of the royal household is such a privilege and we were delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to this excellent new facility.”

St Modwen is the UK’s leading regeneration specialist responsible for the SkyPark development in conjunction with Devon County Council. Its Regional Director, Rupert Joseland said: “South Western Ambulance Service required a strategic location that would enable them to respond to a wide range of incidents as quickly as possible at any hour of the day. Our SkyPark development proved an ideal solution with its quick access to the motorway and communities along the M5 corridor. We welcome the Trust on site as the first official occupiers at SkyPark and wish them every success.”

HRH The Princess Royal was welcomed to ASOC by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Sir Eric Dancer, Mr Hugo Swire MP, The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor, Councillor Percy Prowse and senior executives from Devon County Council. The Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) Ken Wenman and its Chairman, Heather Strawbridge were present, along with other board members and staff.

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