The Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) will be providing the public of Wales with a new service from the 1st of July 2012 when the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) goes live.
The newly formed HART will enable the WAS to provide clinical services at hazardous incidents such as flooding, building collapses, mining incidents, tunnel explosions and major transport collisions. It will also be able to work at the scene of chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and terrorist incidents.
The enhanced capability will complement the existing Special Operations Response Team (SORT), who already organise decontamination and mass oxygenation at such incidents, and will provide the public of Wales with a level of service comparable to the best in the world.
This development is extremely important as public services in Wales are being faced with more complex situations on an increasingly frequent basis.
The specially trained personnel will work throughout Wales on a daily basis, providing high quality care to patients. This will ensure that people will benefit from their support 365 days a year and not simply when there is a major incident.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths AM commented:
“I’m very pleased to see the establishment of HART. This is a significant development in the history of the Welsh Ambulance Service.
“With specialised vehicles and equipment, HART will provide enhanced clinical intervention in areas not currently covered by ambulance staff. Their first deployment was to the recent flooding in Mid-Wales, and although it was a great relief that their specialist training was not utilized in full, at the time it provided great confidence to know that their support and capability was at hand if required.
“This investment by the Welsh Government will enable the Welsh Ambulance Service to play a greater role in saving lives in hazardous environments, and ensure Wales joins with the rest of the UK in having a robust and integrated capability to deal with serious incidents.”
The HART has, and will continue to develop close working relationships with the relevant specialist teams within the Fire & Rescue, Police and other associated services, and this will lead to improved management and better patient outcomes from serious incidents.
Elwyn Price-Morris, Chief Executive of WAS said:
“We are grateful for the significant investment and support from the Welsh Government which will enhance our response to the most serious of incidents here in Wales, and undoubtedly save more lives.
“We would also like to thank the Fire & Rescue Service for the high standard of training they provided to our HART staff.
“Of course we all hope that the HART will not be in serious action too often, but knowing that they exist here in Wales will hopefully give us all some peace of mind that their expertise is available if and when they are needed.”