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Airwave roll-out due for ambulance service

The ambulance service in Essex has implemented an Airwave digital radio service, with a national roll-out due within 18 months.

The ambulance service in Essex has implemented an Airwave digital radio service, with a national roll-out due within 18 months.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust was the pilot for the project, overseen by the Department of Health. They say the system gives better voice communication between crews.

It has been installed in 220 vehicles including emergency ambulances, rapid-response vehicles and patient transport service vehicles.

It improves the service by delivering better quality voice calls between the communications centre and ambulance crews, and carrying data messages to all ambulances.

Airwave has caused some controversy in the past, with worries over the system's safety and costs. Questions have also been raised over whether the Airwave system would provide complete coverage in the London Underground in the event of a terrorist attack. But the company says it is secure and rollout has been rapid over the past few years.

The UK's police force already use the Airwave system, and the fire service will implement it later this year.

Using the same system makes dealing with major incidents easier, and means ambulance crews can easily pass information to other agencies, a spokesman for Airwave said.

Essex paramedic Steve Heard said, "When dealing with an incident the availability of information can have an incredible impact on our effectiveness. Airwave enables us to process and share information more quickly and accurately, and crews have already noticed the improvement Airwave is having on our operations."

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