LOCAL knowledge played a crucial part in dealing with the recent flooding in Worcestershire, according to ambulance control workers.

West Midlands Ambulance Trust recently announced plans to close Worcestershire's ambulance control centre at Bransford.

Instead 999 calls from the county would be answered at one of two regional control centres in Stafford and Brierley Hill.

But over the past couple of days, call takers at the Bransford emergency operations centre have been redirecting ambulance crews around flooded roads, enabling them to reach patients as quickly as possible.

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Control manager Julie Darkes said: "Over the past few days the local knowledge of staff has been important as there have been so many road closures due to the floods.

"Our call takers have been able to advise crews of alternative routes to get to their destinations, which has obviously allowed them to get there as quickly as possible."

The threat to Bransford has been met with widespread condemnation and this week we launched a peition aimed at saving the control centre from closure, which has already attracted 200 responses.

The city's MP Mike Foster initially supported the move to close Bransford, claiming it would improve patient safety.

But yesterday the Labour MP said he was open to persuasion about the planned closure.

"I have only really heard the argument for the closure and the changes, which seems to be strong," he said. "But I would like to hear from those who do not agree and am open to hear all sides before making my mind up."

People are encouraged to send their comments by post to; West Midlands Ambulance Service Headquarters, EOC Reconfiguration Consultation, Millennium Point, Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill, Dudley, West Midlands DY5 1LX; or email consultation@wmas.nhs.uk The consultation period ends on October 1 2007 and people can view copies of the consultation document at www.wmas.nhs.uk