BARTON AMBULANCE SERVICE
and requiring hospital treatment in Barton has always involved a long
journey time. Even today you can expect up to 20 minutes travelling
time even if you are taken to Hull on blue lights. Travelling to hospital
has improved drastically over the years from the old rough road to
Scunthorpe via Winterton to getting the motorway and then the Humber
Bridge, which gave us access to Hull Royal.
The emergency ambulance which also was employed most of the day transporting out patients and a sitting car which was manned by a single ambulance man transported the more able bodied patients to their appointments.
The three full time staff at Barton when I first started were Cyril King who was the Leading Ambulance Man, Harry Portess and Johnny Vrabel. Cyril moved into control shortly after I started due to ill health and the role of Leading Hand was taken over by Keith Green who transferred from Scunthorpe. Johnny Vrabel was an American who had come over during the last war with the American air force to operate out of the airfield at Goxhill. His name can be found on the memorial which now stands at the gateway to the old airfield on Horsegatefield Road in Goxhill.
Along with these three full time staff were part time staff who were called auxiliaries. These staff had full time jobs outside the ambulance service but covered the hours outside the 8am to 6pm times. The people who were auxiliaries when I started were, Jim Mumby, Colin Bell, Denis Huteson, Monty Beaumont, Frank Milner, Clive Cook, Eddie Scott, Jack Petit. All these people had first aid certificates and attended the ambulance training school, which was at Horncastle. Each night or weekends the two members of staff who had been allocated the stand by for that time would attend the station to do their station duties of checking and cleaning the ambulance and then return home to be on call.
If there was a call during their period of stand by they would receive a phone call from control and have to rush to the station and drive to the incident. If the call came in the early hours of the morning the two men would have to get up, get dressed and then travel the mile or so to the station which would take anywhere up to 10 minutes. Today the ambulance service have to meet a target of attending 75% of their life threatening calls within 8 minutes. In 1972 the Lindsey ambulance service drew up plans for a new ambulance station to be built on Tofts Road just past the Millfields turning. The local building firm of Stamp and Sons carried out the work.
In 1974 we entered the new age of Humberside. The ambulance along with the other emergency services started a new county service and the Ambulance head quarters was in Anlaby just outside Hull. Shortly after the inception of Humberside the new station was completed which caused some debate as the new county service stated that they had not ordered the new station but were being forced to pick up the cost. This was soon sorted out and the ambulance staff and vehicles moved to the new station. Very shortly after the inception of Humberside the Ambulance Service was involved in one of its greatest response which was the explosion at Flixborough. The staff from Barton where involved in this disaster for several days. Initially most of the staff turned out and were involved in the evacuation of people in the area. For the following days the ambulance stood by at the site in case of further problems.
This system of three full time staff and 10 auxiliaries continued up until 1977. It was in the summer of 1976 that the chief ambulance officer Mr. Malcom Fozzard who had been in that position since the start of Humberside decided that the auxiliary system was outdated and a full time station was required. Four new full time staff were recruited two from the auxiliary staff and two new members. Even with the introduction of full time staff it was not the end of the standby system.
The new full time station was in fact a 16-hour station as it was actually manned from 0700 to 2300 with the late crew going home to cover the 8 hours of the night shift on the call out system. The staff on the station at this time were Johnny Vrabel, Harry Portess, Keith Green, Steve Horsfall, Dave Rushby, Denis Huteson & John Pullen later to be joined by Mally Ross. This call out system meant that all the staff employed to work at Barton Station had to live within 2 miles of the building. Most of the staff were Bartonians or had previously lived in the villages around Barton. At this time there were very few call outs within the night time and three or four calls between 11pm and 7am a week was the norm. Today we would expect at least that number each night.
This again continued for quite a few years until the mid nineties when it was decided that there should be more full time cover. Initially Barton was given a night shift for four nights a week but it was later realised that Barton was a busier station than Brigg and so Barton was made up to a full 24-hour station. It was only in the mid 90s that the emergency ambulances ceased to be used for the normal day to day transportation of out patients and were kept solely for emergency cases. The first paramedics started in Barton in 1994 with Steve Horsfall and John Pullen qualifying.
Then in 1996 the government decided that parts of the health service would be put up for competitive tendering as trusts to compete for the contracts to run different services. The south bank of the Humber was the first and only part of an ambulance service to be contracted in this way. In the summer of 1996 it was learned that all the area of the old county of Humberside south of the river would be transferred over to Lincolnshire Ambulance service in October 1997
The trust board of Lincolnshire Ambulance service decided that they would run the new area with just two ambulance stations, one at Grimsby and one at Scunthorpe and so do away with the stations at Barton, Brigg and Immingham. Initially they decided that they would keep the ambulances based in the towns and in Barton they arranged with Barton Medical Services for the crew to work out of the Willows Rest Home. So at midnight on the 30th September 1997 the crews left the ambulance station on Tofts Road for the last time and the “for sale” notices were put up. The building and land was later sold and now the station has been converted into a bungalow, which is aptly named The Station.
The ambulance trust realised after a short while that there was a need to keep an ambulance in the Barton area and so the ambulance continued to run out of the Willows Rest home for about a year until Humberside Fire Brigade offered the use of their newly built station on Holydyke where it has continued until today. Quite a few of the staff today are from the Barton area though since stand by was eliminated more staff from away have moved to the station.
ARTICLE KINDLY SUPPLIED BY JOHN PULLEN