A partnership between ambulance staff and firefighters will be launched this weekend with five fire stations trialling co-responding in Suffolk.
Operational fire crews in Suffolk are now set to begin a scheme in which firefighters will respond to certain medical emergencies within their communities.
The scheme sees Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) working in partnership with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
Five fire stations from across Suffolk have been selected to take part in the trial. Sudbury, Long Melford, Haverhill, Lowestoft South and Felixstowe, will provide a total of nine appliances for the trial, which runs until February 2017.
Under the scheme these fire stations will respond with EEAST to cardiac arrest incidents to provide potentially lifesaving interventions. Firefighters, along with paramedics and community first responders will be deployed to these incidents.
To date, around 100 operational firefighters, crew and watch commanders have been selected to enter the trial, with nine appliances in Suffolk providing a medical response to some of the busiest areas in the county for these types of incidents.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service crews are already trained in providing lifesaving treatment, with appliances already carrying defibrillators and trauma bags, but have now received additional training from EEAST, as well as being provided with additional lifesaving equipment to ensure patients receive a consistent level of treatment from all responders attending cardiac arrests.
The training given to firefighters will enable them to provide treatment to patients alongside ambulance and community co-responder colleagues. EEAST ambulance and medical crews are always assigned to attend these priority incidents and will continue to do so.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief fire officer Dan Fearn said: “The scheme is part of a national trial and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is positive and ambitious about continuing our collaboration journey with blue light partners in the county in order to ensure we are doing all that we can to protect and assist the communities of Suffolk when in need.
“We have fantastic departments and teams right across the Service and this trial will see crews utilising in many cases, years of operational experience and expertise in dealing with life critical incidents.
“I would like to extend my thanks to all of those involved from both organisations for their hard work and professionalism in making this trail possible.”
Matthew Hicks, Suffolk’s County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection said: This trial further demonstrates the services commitment to collaboration and improving the service we provide to the communities of Suffolk. The multi-agency project team, comprising of Blue Light responders, representative bodies and service specialists have engaged fully with the concept of co-responding, and it is great to see Suffolk continuing with its track record of improvement, innovation and collaboration.”
Wendy Risdale-Barrs, regional Blue Light Collaboration lead, said: “We already work closely with 999 colleagues and this is an extension of our partnership to help patients with an immediately life-threatening condition.
“Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response (CFR), public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add significantly to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support. We know that the quicker someone starts CPR and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.”