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Emergency vehicle targeted by vandals on village wrecking spree

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The car will be off the road for a week for repairs
The car will be off the road for a week for repairs

“DISGUSTING” and “disrespectful” vandals targeted an ambulance first responder car during a vehicle wrecking spree in Bransgore during the early hours yesterday (Sunday).

The car will be off the roads for a week, and lives could be lost as a result of the “mindless” actions, Bransgore Community First Responders warned.

The Dacia Duster’s wing mirror was smashed off sometime between 1.30am and 7.30am while parked outside an on-call volunteer’s home on Elmers Way.

One of a fleet of 14 new responder vehicles rolled out by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) across Hampshire about three months ago, it had attended two call-outs earlier that night.

Several other vehicles around the village were targeted, with broken wing mirrors and smashed windows reported in Shackleton Square, Hill Close, Shearsbrook Close, Rosehill Drive, Stibbs Way, Brookside Road and Tyrells Court.

Jack Ansell, SCAS community response operations manager, estimated repairs to the first responder vehicle will cost £500 to £600.

“Now we’re having to secure a replacement vehicle while repairs are undertaken which, unfortunately, we have to take out of the charity’s funds which would normally go towards other equipment such as lifesaving defibrillators,” he told the A&T.

“Damaging a vehicle which our local responders use in volunteer capacity and continue to raise funds to support, is disgusting.

The vehicle is one of a fleet of 14 rolled out by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) three months ago
The vehicle is one of a fleet of 14 rolled out by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) three months ago

“Group coordinator Mike Jukes and his team do a smashing job out there and they certainly don’t deserve their vehicle being damaged and taken off the road like that.”

Mr Jukes, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2018 for his service and fundraising, told the A&T CCTV footage of the vandalisms was being shared in the community. A resident had even chased suspects at around 6am on Sunday.

“While we obviously share the frustration of everyone whose car has been damaged, to actually damage our ambulance car so it is not useable, during a time of the pandemic, is disgraceful,” he said.

“As a result of this mindless action our volunteers are less likely to be able to provide that critical response in the first few minutes of a medical emergency or cardiac arrest.

“This really could cost lives in our community until we can get the car back on the road. Local communities donate money which enables South Central Ambulance charity to provide the cars. To have someone do this is so disrespectful to those who care.”

A picture of the damaged responder car loaded on a recovery truck was shared on the group’s Facebook page on Sunday evening.

Several cars were targeted around Bransgore (picture: Richard Day)
Several cars were targeted around Bransgore (picture: Richard Day)

The post highlighted the potentially catastrophic impact of a frontline ambulance not reaching a more serious emergency in time due to having to respond to a non-injury fall in the car’s place.

“So if it was you, and you think it was a great laugh, then think on about the consequences of your actions,” it added, thanking those who had already come forward with information.

The volunteer driver’s daughter was among several residents who took to Facebook to express anger and frustration.

“My dad tirelessly gives up his time in that car to help those in need as quickly as possible,” she wrote. “Let's hope whoever you are, you don't need their assistance anytime soon!”

Some called for vigilante action amid views police were failing to adequately investigate the vandalisms, with reports other vehicles were hit in Bransgore over recent weekends.

A Hampshire police spokesperson told the A&T today (Monday) officers were “pursuing lines of enquiry”.

Those with information should contact the force on 101, quoting crime reference number 44200442536, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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