A brand new, purpose built control room, which will handle half of the 999 calls that come into London Ambulance Service from across the capital, has just opened following a £9.6 million investment.
The state-of-the-art facility in Newham, east London, will handle more than a million 999 calls every year, with the rest being answered at the Service’s headquarters in Waterloo.
Last year, call handlers from London Ambulance Service answered more than 2.2 million 999 calls and 2.2 million 111 calls, while dispatchers sent ambulance crews to more than 1.1 million patients. So this brand new centre – with new phone and computer systems already installed – is set to be a busy place!
Known as an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), around 150 people will eventually work out of the modern building at any one time. The site is also home to the Service’s education and training facilities, meaning that new recruits will be learning the job alongside experienced colleagues.
Brian Jordan, Director of 999 Emergency Operations Centres said, “I’m so proud we can offer our staff this incredible new work space, with great transport links. This move has also allowed us to boost our IT resilience, and upgrade our software and equipment, all crucial in keeping Londoners safe as we face a greater number of calls than ever before. We also have space for our growing workforce and plenty of classrooms in which to train them.”
New dispatch system
The new centre – known as EOC North – has also been set up to handle a brand new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system due later this year. CAD is the programme used to record all information related to requests for an ambulance, so staff can assess, prioritise and, if necessary, dispatch ambulance crews to 999 calls. The new system will allow for faster dispatch of ambulances and means patients will get a quicker response.
999 call handler Maureen Ireland answered the first call at EOC North when it opened. She said, “We have a challenging job – taking calls from people in distress and trying to organise help for them. You never know what the next call might be: it could be about a patient in cardiac arrest or someone about to give birth.
“But that’s what makes it so rewarding – you never know what the situation might be, but you know you’re always there to help. Working in this amazing new space with such a beautiful view really does make a difference.”
London Ambulance Service receives an average of 6,500 calls a day, compared to pre-pandemic averages of around 5,500 a day.