Coronavirus: Hundreds of new 999-callers to be trained at Dudley College
An emergency training centre has been set up at Dudley College to train hundreds of new 999 call-handlers.
It comes after West Midlands Ambulance Service launched a recruitment drive for 600 new operators amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Recruits will be taught how to handle 999 and 111 calls at the college's Brierley Hill construction campus.
The state-of-the-art building, which has IT facilities, is located next to ambulance service's headquarters at the Waterfront Business Park.
Jeremy Brown, director at the trust which runs WMAS, said: "We are immensely grateful to our neighbours, Dudley College, for allowing us to utilise their building at Waterfront Business Park during a national emergency.
"With our own training academy already at capacity, our recruitment and training teams are using the additional space to assess and train hundreds of new call assessors to further bolster staffing levels in our 999 control room.
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"With more staff than ever in our 111 and 999 control rooms as the service continues to respond to the pandemic, the extra parking spaces that have also been provided by the college are also welcomed and being utilised 24/7 by our control room staff."
Recruits will be vetted to see if they are suitable for the high-pressured roles, which requires people to think on their feet and remain calm, before receiving training.
WMAS was interested in the college's Construction Apprenticeship Training Centre due to its close proximity and IT and parking facilities.
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented WMAS with a surge in calls. So far, more than 670 people have lost their lives across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Birmingham.
College bosses were more than happy to help as the college is closed to all students and staff.
College principal Neil Thomas added: "We are proud to be playing our part and supporting our community during these difficult times as the training of staff for these key roles is vital to us all."