Pictured from left: Bakers Dolphin drivers Isabel Thornton, Michael Blowers, Jason Pole

Ten coach drivers from Bakers Dolphin will work as ambulance drivers following the clampdown on travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 10 drivers – who would normally be taking people on holidays this week – began retraining for their new role today (March 23) after an agreement between Bakers Dolphin and Bristol Ambulance Emergency Medical Services.

A further 10 drivers will start training later this week, with the 20 drivers providing cover in four-day shifts.

Bristol Ambulance (EMS) has a fleet of 95 ambulances and will be supporting the NHS in the weeks to come as cases of Covid-19 rise in the Bristol area.

Other Bakers Dolphin drivers will be providing school coaches for the children of key workers.

More: Coronavirus: Latest news and updates

Max Fletcher, Bakers Dolphin managing director, said: “With all international and UK travel in lockdown until at least the end of April we have 50 drivers with no work and a business with very little income.”

“Bristol Ambulance need experienced drivers to support them as they expect demand to soar over the forthcoming weeks.

“We set up a straight-forward agreement where we retain the drivers as employees and Bristol Ambulance have a contract with us top supply them.

“It has been an incredibly stressful time with thousands of cancellations so far and our office staff are systematically working through dealing with alternative arrangements for customers.”

Rob Johnson, director of operations at Bristol Ambulance (EMS) said: “It was important for us to find local drivers that are available right away as our own dedicated team will not be able to work all the hours we are expecting to keep up with the demand for our services.

“In order to minimise any risk to these drivers, our crews, or our patients, the Bakers Dolphin team will be utilised on our routine patient transport journeys and will not form part of our Accident and Emergency response.”