HUDDERSFIELD ambulance station is to get more paramedics and ambulances – but they will be used outside the area too.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service chiefs say response times and patient care are a top priority.
This means ambulances can travel well out of their areas at times and be replaced by ones from other stations.
The Kirklees/Calderdale district is to get two rapid response vehicles staffed by lone paramedics to get to life-threatening calls quickly, along with one extra ambulance.
It is not yet clear exactly how many new paramedics will start in this area to staff the vehicles.
Since the former West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service became part of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service in July last year shift patterns and work rotas have been closely analysed.
These changed this spring to try to ensure that enough ambulances are around to meet the demand, so more paramedics are on duty at weekends than on normal weekdays.
A recruitment drive is under way to take on trainee paramedics to staff the extra vehicles.
Some will be starting just before Christmas, with the rest in the new year.
Alan Baranowski, the service’s assistant director of operations, said paramedics in rapid response cars go to calls where life is in immediate danger, including potential crime scenes.
He spoke out after a paramedic said two rapid response cars were not sent to the scene of the Ryan Hawkins murder in Slaithwaite last month.
But Mr Baranowski said the response – an ambulance and an area supervisor – was in line with the information the service first received.
He said: “We would not send a lone paramedic into a dangerous situation, such as a pub fight.
“They cannot deal with a patient and watch their own back at the same time.
“We would send an ambulance with two crew members, but not expect them to enter unless they felt it was safe.
“If we get a life-threatening call which may involve a crime we would liaise with police and, if appropriate, send a paramedic in a fast response car to a police holding point.
“An ambulance would always back that paramedic up,’’ he added.
Calls are categorised.
Category A calls are life-threatening ones, where a paramedic should be on the scene within eight minutes.
These cases include cardiac arrests, breathing problems or severe trauma, such as a bad fall from a height.
In Huddersfield ambulance crews meet this target almost 80% of the time. The Yorkshire average is 75%. Countywide, crews get to 95% of category A calls within 19 minutes.
And 19 minutes is the target response time for category B calls, when patients need treatment that is not immediately life-threatening. This could be a broken limb or a serious illness.
Mr Baranowski said: “We would send the nearest available vehicle to category A calls.
“If this involved a crime scene the vehicle would go to the police holding point. All our vehicles can be tracked all the time, so we know exactly where any crew is and if they are available.’’
All ambulances have satellite tracker devices which means they can go out of their usual areas without getting lost. Cover is then brought in from other areas.
Mr Baranowski added: “If a vehicle has had to come from Bradford to Huddersfield then that’s perfectly acceptable.
“Response times since the Yorkshire Ambulance Service was formed have improved.’’
The way response times are calculated are to change next March, which will make it even tougher for crews.
At the moment the clock starts ticking once the ambulance operator is given the ‘critical information’ by the caller. This is basically what is wrong with the patient.
But from March the clock starts from the moment the call is answered.
Mr Baranowski praised frontline ambulance crews, who have to show immense flexibility.
He said: “They do a difficult job in some very difficult circumstances. They are very highly trained professionals and are totally dedicated.’’