'Lives will be lost' - Fears for future of Alston community ambulance

Elaine Grew, Alston Moor Parish Councillor, is campaigning to keep the community ambulance. Credit: ITV News

Campaigners say they fear for the fate of one of the region's most unique ambulance services. 

Alston Moor, in the north pennines, has had a community run service for more than 50 years, but now a question mark hangs over its future after volunteer numbers plummeted.

The present vehicle is supplied by the North West ambulance service and is staffed by trained volunteers many of whom carry out the work in addition to their main jobs.

They go to medical emergencies of all kinds, treating and stabilising patients until paramedic crews arrive from Penrith or Carlisle - both of which are more than 20 miles away.

Alston has had its own ambulance for 46 years crewed by local people. Credit: ITV News

But new regulations mean a new qualification is now needed which can only be offered by educational institutions. Campaigners are warning of what could happen if their ambulance service stops for good.

Alston Moor Parish Councillor, Elaine Grew, told ITV Border that 'lives will be lost' if the service cannot be saved. She said: "It's extremely important here on Alston Moor. We live in a really rural area with extreme weather conditions throughout the year, not just over the winter.

"Our nearest A&E hospital is over 25 miles away. It takes about 40 minutes to an hour for an ambulance to get from anywhere.

"Lives will be lost. Community first responders that we are getting cannot respond to everything that happens on the moor. They can't respond to problems with children, maternity cases, mental health issues and certainly not road traffic collisions."