THE ambulance service covering Wyre Forest has taken its latest step in becoming the first with a totally interactive and virtual control centre.

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust has started the phased introduction of its new Regional Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

The system, tailor made to meet trust needs, has taken best practice from each of the trust’s legacy control systems.

Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire was the first area to go live on the new system, in May.

The second phase, which saw Birmingham and the Black Country move over, followed at the start of this month after trust bosses were satisfied the new system had been bedded in successfully.

Barry Thurston, director of service delivery, said: “We always said that we would only make changes when we knew there would be an improvement in service and that is what we have done.

“When we designed the new CAD we asked for the views of our staff, the staff who have to use it every day - what did they like about their current system and what would they like to see changed?

“From this, we worked with the supplier, Cleric, to design a system that has been warmly welcomed by the staff.”

He added: “The implementation of this new Computer Aided Dispatch system across the whole trust will mean that calls will be able to be dealt with even faster than they are now.

“Essentially, this transition is the first step toward to the trust having one virtual control centre, based over three sites.”

Daren Fradgley, regional head of EOCs, added: “The transition from the existing to the new system went extremely well. The trust did experience some dips in performance during the switch over, which was foreseen and strategic plans were in place.

“We deployed additional resources to ensure the go live went as smoothly as possible and we are proud to report one of the most successful switchovers experienced nationally among ambulance services.”

Once the system is in place in all three control rooms, the system will give the trust the ability to take 999 emergency phone calls at any one of the centres. That will mean callers should not have to wait for their phone call to be answered.

The emergency vehicles, however, will continue to be dispatched by dedicated teams covering each division, such as one covering Worcestershire and another covering the Black Country.