New £4.3 Million Station Opens in Fort William

 Friday 28 February 2014

A new purpose built ambulance station has been opened in Fort William that is shared with Police Scotland, creating a major new partner-working facility to help keep people safe in the wider West Central Highlands through a range of specialist functions as part of an investment of £4.3m to the area.

This building marks a significant investment in a purpose built facility that meets Scottish Ambulance Service needs and provides a modern fit for purpose work environment for ambulance staff. The new station is built in an area of Fort William known as Blar Mor, which is a green field site on the northern outskirts of Fort William. Co-location between Police Scotland and the Service and the use of shared facilities will allow the two organisations to strengthen an already close working relationship.

For ambulance staff the station provides an improved, modern work environment within a facility that meets all of the stringent infection control standards required in NHS Scotland with dedicated areas for vehicle cleaning and decontamination.

The inclusion of training and conference rooms supports the professional education and development of ambulance staff and will become a training station for the North West, developing student ambulance technicians from the Scottish Ambulance Service Training Academy.

The building has fully IT enabled conference and training rooms which have been designed so they can be utilised as a multi-agency incident room when required.

Mr David Garbutt, Chairman, of the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "The original ambulance station was built in 1974 and served as an operational base for five members of staff and today there are 26 ambulance staff based in Fort William.

"We have worked closely with Police Scotland to create a purpose built facility that meets the needs of the Scottish Ambulance Service, providing a modern, fit for purpose, work environment for ambulance staff.

"The new facility, will house up to three emergency ambulances, along with three Patient Transport Vehicles, all operating from the one facility.

"Every year ambulance staff in Fort William respond to over 1,000 emergencies, undertake around 500 inter-hospital transfers to Glasgow and Edinburgh and transport more than 3,000 patients to and from hospital appointments."

The new police station, which will be open from 07:00 to 00:00 hours, seven days a week, offers increased office space conducive to a more productive working environment thereby enabling staff to operate more efficiently and maximise the use of resources.

For police officers, there is a modern custody suite with increased cell capacity and includes CCTV monitoring equipment in each cell to enhance custody supervision.

With the newly formed Trunk Roads Patrol Group, which is based at the Fort William station, Police Scotland's commitment to road safety has been greatly increased with routine patrols, attendance at incidents, investigation of collisions and the provision of specialist officers to assist in the investigation of fatal collisions. The direct benefits to the wider communities across the West Central Highlands can be achieved through a higher profile policing presence on the trunk road network, creating more equal access to specialist support to the area.

The new facility also has a secure compound at the rear thereby improving all round security particularly in regard to police vehicles, external stores and custody handling.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House QPM said: "The foundations of Police Scotland are built on strong local policing which serves the public and is connected to communities across the country, from the most urban of environments to the most rural.

"Building and maintaining a visible local policing presence in communities across Highland and Islands is critical to how we keep people safe. Investing in modern police buildings from where our officers can base themselves to provide the right response to the policing priorities specific to each area is an important part of how we achieve that.

"Where we can, we want to work closely with our emergency service partners. Fort William is a shining example of Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service working together to provide a better service to the public.

"The Fort William and wider Lochaber area is popular with visitors all year round and presents its own unique challenges for policing, in terms of the terrain, popularity with visitors and often changeable weather conditions.

"Working together from shared premises can only enhance the already strong local relationships and response to incidents and emergencies."