Who’s in the driving seat? Launch of ambulance car challenge in Swanage

A new activity trail for children has been launched in Swanage at the start of the summer holidays, featuring Purbeck’s much-loved and appreciated ambulance car.

Children (and adults too, if they wish!) can pick up a map, free of charge, from Swanage Information Centre on Shore Road and then follow the trail to some of the town’s well-known landmarks, all within walking distance.


The idea is to track down the picture of the Swanage-based ambulance car and discover which sea creature is in the driver’s seat! All correct entries returned to the information centre get a reward of sweets, a badge and a postcard.

Ambulance car summer trail map
Swanage Ambulance Car trail in window
Laura Rowan

The Ambulance Car Summer Trail starts and finishes at the Swanage Information Centre in Shore Road on the seafront

The future of the ambulance car is under review

Behind this fun idea is a serious message from the Save Our Ambulance Car campaign team who wish to highlight that the future of the car is under review by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who allocates the funding for health services in Dorset.

The ambulance car is staffed by a paramedic and serves the whole of Purbeck, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Campaigners say it rarely takes patients to hospital so it stays locally and can respond quickly to emergency calls. Ambulances based at Swanage and Wareham often spend a large proportion of their time out of Purbeck travelling to Poole, Bournemouth or Dorchester hospitals.

Plans by Dorset CCG to scrap the emergency services car emerged in February 2020, but it was given a reprieve at the start of the Covid pandemic.

Purbeck Paramedic Car

The ambulance car on a call-out in Corfe Castle

No plans to reduce the amount of funding

Dorset CCG says there are no plans to reduce the amount of funding to the ambulance service overall but wishes to engage with the community about whether money should still be allocated to the Swanage-based ambulance car.

It says that there are no proposals currently on the table and it won’t make changes to the funding allocation until a community engagement process has been completed.

Children undertake the ambulance car summer trail
Laura Rowan

Here’s a clue! One of the ambulance cars can be discovered at the Chadwick Playground near the seafront

“We stand ready to raise our voices in its defence”

Save Swanage Ambulance Car campaigner, Laura Rowan said:

“Whilst we are waiting for the promised public engagement on the future of the ambulance car to start, the community wants to make it known that the issue remains at the forefront of our minds and that we stand ready to raise our voices in its defence.

“Our Ambulance Car Summer Trail is both a fun thank you to all the children and their families who have supported the campaign so far but it is also a visual reminder that our residents and visitors need this service.

“The fabulous locations that are displaying our symbols – The Mowlem, The Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, Swanage Library, Swanage Information Centre and the Chadwick Playground – reflect that this is a community united behind the effort to defend this critical public health resource.”

Ambulance car at Incident in high street swanage

The ambulance car attending an emergency in Swanage High Street

“The car is very well used”

With Swanage’s population swelling to around 50,000 during the summer months, the ambulance car serves a large number of residents and visitors. Swanage Town councillor Debby Monkhouse, who leads on the town council’s emergency health services working party added:

“The car is very well used in Purbeck and particularly in Swanage. In 2018, when it was decided to move accident and emergency services, along with maternity and pediatric services further away from Swanage – from Poole to Bournemouth Hospital, Dorset CCG promised in a Dorset Council meeting to fully maintain the ambulance resources in Swanage.

“What will Dorset Council do about this promise, and what will it do to ensure Swanage and Isle of Purbeck residents and visitors have access to an emergency response, which at the very least, does not get any worse?”

Further information

  • More about the children’s trail and the Swanage Ambulance Car is on the campaign website
Children undertake the ambulance car summer trail
Laura Rowan

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