New £1.5m training facility opens at Newbridge

Paul Bassett, Pauline Howie, Michael Matheson and Tom Steele at the plaque

A new £1.5 million Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) special operations training and logistics facility was opened in Newbridge, Edinburgh yesterday (June 12).

Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care Michael Matheson visited the base to see the expansion and learn about what type of training will be carried out at the facility, which is the first of its kind in the UK.

He spoke with Scottish Ambulance Service Chief Executive Pauline Howie, SAS Chair Tom Steele, incoming CEO Michael Dickson and General Manager of the National Risk and Resilience Department (NRRD) John Burnham, along with other staff from NRRD.

As part of SAS’s Civil Contingencies Response Programme, the training facility – which is an expansion to the ambulance service’s existing NRRD east base - will be used as a centralised training location and a dedicated equipment logistics hub.

The facility will be used for a range of training exercises, including how to respond to major incidents, and also Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents. It also includes a 360, fully interactive, immersive training suite which can be used to simulate a range of incidents in different environments including emergency departments, night clubs, industrial sites. The suite enables not only the practice of clinical skills but subjects staff to a variety of stimuli including lighting and sound effects which may impact on performance.

SAS Chief Executive Pauline Howie said: “We are delighted to open this new training facility today and I’d like to thank all the staff involved. It has been an incredible effort and our NRRD department is a vital part of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“This training facility will be invaluable for our staff who respond to both large and challenging incidents.  This can include treating and conveying patents from challenging inaccessible and confined location including water, chemical accidents and incidents involving a large number of people.

“This facility will help us prepare to respond to these large-scale and complex incidents safely and provide the best care to our patients.”

Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This facility will be a valuable asset in allowing staff to train in a realistic but safe environment. Giving them the chance to experience different scenarios which could be out of the usual confines of their daily routine is so important as it will give them the confidence, resilience and knowledge of how to respond. Our ambulance staff run to help those in times of need and it is right that we give them the tools to allow them to do that and this training facility will do that.”

Posted on 13/06/2023