OVER a thousand people have applied to join the region’s paramedics in recent days, to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it is starting ‘unprecedented’ recruitment plans for emergency call handlers and medics.
The ambulance service called for more emergency assessors in 999 control rooms, and says within 72 hours it had received 1000 applications.
An ambulance service spokesman said: “In these extraordinary times that face our country, we have put extensive plans that will see a substantial increase in staff numbers and upskilling hundreds of existing staff so that they can help the public.
“Over recent weeks, we have increased the number of call assessors in both our 999 and 111 control rooms, and last weekend saw over 1,000 people apply.
“We are now fast tracking those applications with dozens of interviews held yesterday with more taking place on Friday.”
Around 200 students at West Midlands universities who are set to become paramedics have also been fast-tracked into the service.
“We have students who are just weeks away from qualifying and have spent thousands of hours on our ambulances, working with our staff, treating patients.
“They are very well trained and experienced already.
“All of them will work with fully qualified paramedics and technicians on the road. As of Monday, this has allowed us to double the number of ambulances operating from our Bromsgrove Hub, where we have gone from 20 crews a day to 40.
“A further 130 Year 2 university graduate paramedics have also been taken on to work as assistants to our vehicle preparation operatives; the staff who play a vital role cleaning and re-stocking our ambulances which allows our clinical staff to spend more time treating patients.
“This will double our capacity at a time when this role has never been more important.”
Emergency Services Operations Delivery Director, Nathan Hudson, said: “We are receiving huge support from our university students who are desperate to do their part to help the nation at this time.
“Many are already very familiar to our staff and the response we have had from the team at Bromsgrove has been incredible with the students made to feel very welcome.
“These students would have qualified over the next few weeks as HCPC registered paramedics so are a tremendous asset for us and I have no doubt that they will help to save many lives over the coming weeks. I am incredibly proud of the students and also our staff for doing the right thing to help patients.”
Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “We are dealing with a global pandemic and a national emergency. COVID-19 presents the NHS with arguably the greatest challenge it has faced since its creation.
“I am committed to doing everything necessary to protect the public and save lives. Seeing the lengths that our staff are going to, to help people has never made me feel prouder to lead such an organisation.
“We have taken difficult decisions in recent weeks and will continue to do everything necessary to ensure we protect the 999 service, but it is vital that the public help us.
“The message is clear, Stay at home; Protect the NHS; Save lives. Anyone can spread the virus so:
“Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
“Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.”