HART receives specialist driver training

Tuesday, 06 March, 2012

A member of the SWASFT HART is put through his paces on the off road course as part of the Response Convoy Driver Training.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) is the first in the UK to receive specialist Response Convoy Driver Training.

The SWASFT HART consists of dedicated ambulance crews who are able to triage and treat patients under hazardous and potentially contaminated conditions.

The need for the driver training has arisen because of the need for multiple resources to respond to incidents together. Because of the associated dangers with a multiple resource response, and to cause as little disruption to the public as possible, the SWASFT driving faculty has developed a package of training that not only incorporates the normal off road driving skills, but also includes a three day Response Convoy Driving Course.

The course is delivered by qualified instructors, and has been adapted from Police services protocol, and allows up to four vehicles to respond safely to the scene of an incident whilst causing minimal disruption to other road users.

Robin Gwinnett, Head of Driver Training at SWASFT, said: "The training has been exceptionally well received by the HART managers and the HART team members alike.
"Although on the first day the training can seem daunting, by day two and three the students are really competent at response convoy driving and can see the benefits of this type of response.
"I feel privileged to be able to work with such a competent team, and to have developed this excellent course which I hope will enable the HART team to make effective responses to the most serious incidents within our Trust area and beyond."

The training promotes a much more efficient response as the heavy vehicles required by HART are able to maintain higher average speeds. This not only helps to protect the driver from fatigue, but also reduces fuel consumption and vehicle wear and tear.

Once the basic skills are mastered the student then progresses onto the road to practice a two-car convoy response then, once familiar with the systems employed, a four-car convoy.

Finally, on day three, HART vehicles are used so that the students can appreciate and become familiar with the limitations of a larger vehicle and to ensure that true team-work is employed to deliver an efficient response for all vehicles in the convoy.

SWASFT are hopeful that other HART teams will acknowledge the benefit of this training and follow suit to provide a unified driver training programme.

For further information about South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust visit

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