The AA has partnered with the London Ambulance Service to help keep its vehicles moving during the coronavirus pandemic. The breakdown organisation has sent more than 40 patrols to the capital, helping ambulance crews stay on the beat as the country endures a second week of lockdown.
London has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with the capital accounting for around a third of all deaths in the country. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said as of April 1, almost 29,500 people in the UK had tested positive for coronavirus, and 2,532 of those had died.
Despite only making up around 16 percent of the English population, London has also seen a third of all England’s coronavirus-related hospital admissions. Across the country, 10,767 people have been admitted, with 3,915 of those in London and 1,918 in the Midlands. As a result, so-called ‘Nightingale’ hospitals are being built across the UK, including one at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London’s Docklands.
To help the NHS, the AA has sent 41 patrols to the London Ambulance Service’s 12 workshops, where they will provide mechanical support and breakdown assistance. At the same time, the AA will also provide “incident management services” such as vehicle recovery and immediate technical support.
In total, the London Ambulance Service boasts more than 500 ambulances and 70 fast response cars, which the AA will help to maintain. All that will happen alongside the existing arrangements the AA has with other ambulance services, and the organisation hopes to roll out further “support schemes” for the UK’s emergency services.
Garrett Emmerson, London Ambulance Service’s chief executive, said he appreciated the AA’s support as the service’s workload grows.
“We are very grateful for the support of the AA as the country faces the biggest public health challenge in generations – one that is putting unprecedented strain on our service,” he said. “Our staff and volunteers are working harder than ever to provide life-saving care to Londoners. This partnership will help our fleet and workshop teams make sure crews can get back out on the road and continue to reach those patients that need us most.”
Meanwhile Edmund King, the AA’s president, said the organisation would not limit its support to ambulances in London, and would offer other ambulance services the use of AA patrols.
“We are proud to play our part supporting the vital ambulance services in London during this crisis,” he said. “This is an unprecedented situation and we’ve all got to pull together to ease the pressure on our emergency services and the NHS. We would be delighted to offer a similar service to the other ambulance services across the UK. We’re still here to keep key workers and members on the move, but urge motorists to heed government advice and only travel when it’s essential.”