Guide Dogs East Anglia is celebrating the imminent launch of new dog-friendly ambulances across the region.
The charity has worked with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) to develop the modifications, which include new interior colours and signage, as well as space for a guide dog or wheelchair.
Guide Dogs called for the changes after a local guide dog owner collapsed and was rushed to hospital in one of the Trust’s vehicles, and then later awoke to find her dog had been left behind.
One of the new vehicles will be unveiled at a launch event set to take place at the EEAST headquarter’s in Cambourne, at 1pm on December 20, 2013.
Helen Sismore, community engagement officer at Guide Dogs East Anglia said: “Being taken to hospital as an emergency patient is scary for anyone, for someone who is blind or partially-sighted who needs their dog as a mobility aid, it can be a terrifying experience.
“Knowing guide dog owners can be assured that their dogs will be taken with them is fantastic news.
She added: “EEAST have been fantastic in working with us to help make their new design of ambulances more accessible. This has been a great opportunity to work in partnership to really make a difference for guide dog owners.”
Guide dog owner Cynthia Easeman helped EEAST with the re-design.
She said: “As a blind person, if you need to be in an ambulance you are totally unaware of where you are, why you are there and feel very much isolated and alone. Then to have your dog taken from you is like saying to someone else, ‘I will just take your eyes away’.
“Now we don’t have to worry, we know our dogs will be in the new ambulances with us, tethered for their safety and that of the patient and crew.”
The first 10 vehicles modified for blind and partially sighted patients will hit the roads over Christmas and the new year, and the Trust plans to roll out the changes across its entire fleet during 2014.
Paul Henry, EEAST associate director of operations support, added: “This was a wonderful opportunity to work directly with patients to listen to what matters most to them and to make meaningful changes to our ambulances based upon patient feedback.”
For more information or comment from Guide Dogs Peterborough/East Anglia please contact Emma Cooper on 07787512427 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information from EEAST contact Richard Dunne on 01954 712471 or email@example.com