You’d be barking mad to miss 999 Weekend!

Ambulance service staff will put on a dog show as part of the event
Ambulance service staff will put on a dog show as part of the event

A TEAM of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) staff will be putting on a dog display on July 3 as part of this year’s Eastbourne 999 Weekend.

The staff, who are all based at Eastbourne Ambulance Station have set up the Ambulance Dogs display team in their own time.

The dogs, which are named after the dogs which worked before and for the first few weeks of the First World War, are trained by the team in search and rescue skills.

The original idea to use dogs came from the Red Cross who wanted to use ambulance dogs on the western front.

However, the idea was deemed unsuccessful early into the war and the French in fact banned the use of ambulance dogs within a few weeks of the war beginning.

The team is made up of Patient Transport Service (PTS) team leader Bill Pike and his dog Nala, ambulance technician Mat Crossland and Charles, PTS staff member Vernon Weston and Milly, and student paramedic Sarah Dumelow and Winston. Wife and daughter of local community first responder Kevin Longhurst, Sue and Lily, complete the team and perform the role of hiding from the dogs.

Bill said, “We all meet up once a week in our spare time to train the dogs but we all also train our own dogs every day.

“Some of the dogs have only been training for three months. It’s just a bit of fun at the moment but we hope to expand and invite other members of staff from SECAmb to join us. We really want people to come along and support us.”

Eastbourne 999 weekend takes place next weekend (July 2-3) on the Western Lawns between 10.30am and 5pm each day. SECAmb helps organise the event with Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the RNLI.

Supported by Eastbourne Borough Council, the event gives visitors the opportunity to meet members of the emergency services and get an up-close look at 999 response vehicles.