The official opening of the Enniskillen station of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) took place on Wednesday, October 17.

Crews have been operating from the new station since December 2017 which is built on the site of the old Erne Hospital, at a cost of £3.1 million, and accommodates 54 emergency and non-emergency staff and 13 vehicles.

NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, welcomed the opening of the new station while paying tribute to the staff who work there, saying: “Since taking up post as Chief Executive, I have been impressed by the professionalism and dedication of all ambulance staff. When travelling around stations, meeting with staff, I have been struck by the sometimes less than ideal conditions that our crews have to work out of. The role of the ambulance service has changed considerably over the years and ambulance crews now provide life-saving interventions on a daily basis, often in very challenging circumstances and environments. It is only right that they should have a place to where they can return which reflects importance of the contribution they make.

“I am delighted that the committed crews in Enniskillen, who, on a daily basis provide our service to the communities of Fermanagh, and sometimes beyond, have been provided with this state of the art station.

“I know they are very proud of this station and I wish them all many happy years ahead.

“None of this would have been possible without the investment provided by Department of Health and for that we are grateful. I also want to thank the teams within NIAS and their external partners who have realised this project, which has already picked up a number of awards within the construction industry.”

Mr. Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health added:

“This new building demonstrates the commitment of the Department to ensuring that staff have the facilities and resources they need to meet increasing demand and to provide a service to the people of the Fermanagh area that is up to modern quality standards and which we can all be proud of.

“The new ambulance station in Enniskillen will provide a flexible workspace which is capable of supporting NI Ambulance’s changing and developing workforce.

“I am always very impressed of the work of the ambulance service personnel, who deal with extremely difficult situations with utter professionalism. I am delighted to be able to open the new Enniskillen Ambulance Station today and I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in this project.”

Speaking at the opening of the ambulance station, Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone was delighted to be at the opening, commending the Western Trust for their investment. “I think it is hugely important especially in this very difficult period of time when services are being impacted by Tory austerity peoples interaction with front line services is even more important especially in rural communities so we need to see a fully operational ambulance service here in Fermanagh and Omagh.

“We need to see the infrastructure that goes along with that. We need to have confidence that if they need an ambulance it can get to them within a very reasonable amount of time and deal with them as professionally as possible.

“As a community first responder I have dealt with many of them over the past number of years and I know they work extremely hard. Unfortunately we don’t have enough personnel to deliver the kind of service we need here in Fermanagh.

“I am hoping for that to be rectified and I know steps are being taken but it will take additional funding and it will take political will and we need to ensure that this most front line of front line services is protected and enhanced,” she said.