Inside new multi-million pound ambulance control room preparing for 3,000 calls a day over Christmas

WATCH: ITV Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports from Kent's new ambulance centre

Ambulance call handlers working in a state-of-the-art new control room are preparing for one of their busiest times of the year.

South East Coast Ambulance Service is expecting to receive approximately 90,000 emergency calls from the public throughout December - representing an average of 3,000 calls per day.

Those dialling 999 for an ambulance in Kent, Surrey or Sussex will be put through to an advisor based in the new operations centre in Gillingham, Kent, or an existing centre in Crawley, West Sussex.

The new building in Gillingham houses an ambulance station, emergency operations centre, and NHS 111 contact centre. Credit: SECAmb NHS Foundation Trust

Staff have been gradually moving into the building over recent months. The site on Bredgar Road replaces a nearby ambulance station and a former operations centre in Coxheath near Maidstone.

It is the first ambulance centre in the country to bring together an ambulance station under the same roof as 999 and 111 call centres.

SECAmb’s Executive Director of Operations, Emma Williams, said: “Bringing our 999 and 111 services under one roof will ensure we further optimise functions between these services.

"The new centre will be of real benefit to colleagues and provide access to modern facilities and increase training opportunities.”

WATCH: Operations Manager Westley Shaw explains how the public can help the ambulance service

In December, the Trust is expecting to dispatch ambulance crews to approximately 40,000 Category 1 and Category 2 999 calls – the two highest categories of call for the most seriously ill or injured patients.

In excess of 10,000 calls are expected to be triaged as Category 3, to which the ambulance service aim to respond to in under two hours, although this is likely to be longer at peak periods.

Other callers will speak to a clinician over the phone and be provided with advice and, if required, a referral to a more appropriate service for their needs.

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