A trailblazing scheme that will see firefighters respond to 999 ambulance calls could be a “lifesaving” move, brigade bosses have said.
As reported in yesterday’s Echo, a new pilot scheme is being launched which sees the North East Ambulance Service join forces with four fire brigades in the region, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Cleveland Fire Brigade, Northumberland Fire and Rescue and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
The six-month trial, which starts this month, will see firefighters become Emergency Medical Responders (EMR), despatched to medical emergencies, such as a cardiac arrest, along with the paramedics.
Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer for Cleveland Fire Brigade, who is heading up the project, said fire stations are based in communities, which means the EMRs can often be on the scene quicker than the paramedics.
He said: “The scheme involves trained firefighters attending incidents in areas where we can reach a casualty and maintain life or reduce suffering and anxiety until a paramedic arrives.
“This really is a lifesaving partnership.”
Caroline Thurlbeck, director of the North East Ambulance Service, said: “NEAS receives a new 999 call every 65 seconds, and in an emergency, every second counts.
“Our ambition for this trial is to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a life-threatening illness or injury in the community.”
Firefighters have undergone additional first aid training ahead of their new roles.