Ambulance service staff and their supporters who fear proposed changes will lead to a postcode lottery for care, marched into Newark Market Place today.
About 25 staff, carrying banners and flags saying: “Save your local ambulance station,” marched from Newark Ambulance Station on Queen’s Road up Appletongate, along Bridge Street and into the market, handing out leaflets and petitions.
They were led by a town crier, who said on the steps of Newark Town Hall: “It’s time to make a stand.”
Within an hour, hundreds had signed to oppose the closure of the ambulance station, proposed by East Midlands Ambulance Service as part of an overhaul.
Mr Dave Brewer, an emergency care assistant at Newark Ambulance Station, said: “I have worked here for 38 years and it is a big part of my life.
“I would like to think we have the support of the people of Newark. If we lose it, it has gone for all time. They are making a big mistake. You can’t close ambulance stations and expect the same service.”
The GMB union helped to organise the march.
Annie Berry, the union representative for the Nottinghamshire division of EMAS, said: “It is vital for the town and for the public to keep an ambulance station, otherwise our members believe the ambulance service will become a postcode lottery.”
Members of the public signed petitions, and listened to speeches outside the Town Hall.
Mr Brian Jones, 77, and his wife, Mrs Jean Jones, 71, of Stephen Road, Newark, both signed.
Mr Jones said: “Just over a year ago I had a heart attack and the prompt arrival of an ambulance saved my life.
“Not only did they treat me at the scene but they resuscitated me in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
“It is vital that we keep vehicles and staff in Newark. If I had not made it we would not be celebrating our golden wedding anniversary on Saturday.”
Mrs Julie Cobb, 55, of Coddington, said: “They want this town to grow but they are slowly doing away with all the facilities. We should be improving these things. Ambulances can be the difference between life and death.”
Mr David Moore, a former paramedic at Newark, said: “This will make EMAS realise that we are not just going to lie back and let this happen.”
EMAS is proposing to close 66 stations and replace them with 13 larger hubs and 131 community stand-by points.