WORK is underway on a £500,000 “superstation” for the county’s ambulance service that should mean no market town will lose its emergency cover.

The superstation, being built on the site of the old Hereford ambulance station off the A49 at Grafton, will be the base for a new 999 response system known as Make Ready.

Demands on the ambulance service in the county are now easily outstripping previous years, with recent statistics showing the number of Category A – the most urgent – calls alone close to or above 600 a month.

As planned, Herefordshire is the first in the West Midlands ambulance service area to test Make Ready – details of which were first reported by the Hereford Times last September – with the system expected to be operational early next year.

Make Ready puts crews out to a series of purposebuilt community response points (CRPs) that work around a central hub – the so-called superstation.

Crews will report to the hub to start and finish shifts. It is from the hub that crews will be sent out to CRPs, while staff separate from paramedics and ambulance technicians would ensure each ambulance or response car operating out of the hub is cleaned, stocked, and ready to go.

New shift patterns are intended to keep up CRP cover as crews are committed to calls or take patients to hospital.

Though Make Ready is not about shutting stations in the market towns, the service has said it will look at both the condition and location of those stations town by town with a view to either refurbishment or replacement if needed.

The plan already provides for a paramedic fast response car specific to each market town and support from community first responders.

Unlike the current roadside standby system the service operates, CRPs are actual base points fitted out with what crews need.

Those crews have broadly accepted that Make Ready is on the way, but there are still some concerns over how well covering crews will know the “patch” they are sent out to.