West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) is investing over £400,000 to strengthen its Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) beyond the standard national requirements.

The Trust has to have 42 HART paramedics, which breaks down into seven teams of six. However, in order to add extra resilience, WMAS has employed an extra seven HART paramedics to ensure an operational capability of seven teams of seven.

HART provides paramedic care to patients within a hazardous environment that would otherwise be beyond the reach of NHS care. This can include working at height, collapsed structures or within contaminated environments. HART staff can also operate within the Warm Zone of a firearms incidents to triage, treat and extricate patients.

Having an additional seventh member of the team also allows them to provide a more robust response to HART incidents but also the seventh member of the team can work with Trust staff at bariatric incidents using specialist equipment that has been issued to HART. All ambulances are able to carry a bariatric stretcher. They are held at each hub as well as specialist bariatric vehicles across the Trust.

HART and Special Operations Manager for WMAS, James Price, said: “The significance of the Trust’s decision to extend our HART teams cannot be underestimated.

“Not only does it give us increased resilience in terms of a job HART are required to attend, it also further develops the skillset of an additional seven members of staff into the diverse operating environment of Hazardous Area Response Teams.

“By increasing the number of HART paramedics within the West Midlands, we are further enhancing the service patients receive throughout the region when calling 999 in their hour of need.”

WMAS trialled the Urban Search and Rescue element of HART in 2008, before going fully live with the incident response unit and its associated specialist vehicles in 2009. During the next two years WMAS HART was at the forefront of implementing both the inland water capability and firearms element that can now be seen in HART teams across the country.

(Images: WMAS/WMAS HART)