24 November 2011

A scheme which will see firefighters support the ambulance service to provide emergency medical cover to areas of Northamptonshire is being officially launched this Friday (25th November)

Northamptonshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service has joined up with the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) as part of a co-responding scheme.

The scheme sees firefighters volunteer to be called to certain types of medical emergencies such as heart attack or breathing difficulties.

On-call firefighters register their mobile phone numbers with the ambulance service Emergency Operations Centre (control). This means if an incident occurs within their location, they can be alerted at the same time as an ambulance crew and mobilised to attend the incident. As they are already in the area they can provide essential treatment whilst the ambulance crew travels to the scene.

Firefighters taking part in the scheme receive advanced training from EMAS and vehicles are equipped with basic first aid equipment, oxygen and an automated external defibrillator (a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart) so that they can administer medical treatment ahead of an ambulance crew’s arrival.

The training includes a five-day Immediate Emergency Care course, which includes written and practical exams. Almost all of the whole-time firefighters have already been trained, with the course now being rolled out to the county’s retained firefighters.

The scheme has been shortlisted in the first-ever St John Ambulance First Aid Awards 2011.

Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection said: “This is a true example of an effective partnership, seeing skills and resources shared to enhance the service being offered to people in the county.

“Ambulance crews will still attend all medical emergencies but there are times when a trained firefighter can reach an incident sooner, and this means they can administer life-saving emergency medical care as quickly as possible.”

Chief fire officer Martyn Emberson has received the medical training and has already been called out on several occasions. He said: “This is voluntary, as giving medical treatment is not part of a fire-fighter’s role, but I’m doing this for the same reason that I joined the fire service – to save lives.

“In a medical emergency, a fast response is often crucial and this scheme means that in some areas of the county firefighters like me can be mobilised and start giving medical treatment ahead of the arrival of the ambulance crew.

”The extra training received by fire crews also means they have new skills that can be used at fires or road traffic collisions.”

Other fire services provide this support to ambulance crews across the East Midlands in a scheme which is similar to the Community First Responders who are volunteers that live in remote areas and are trained to help the ambulance service provide a fast response to people in an emergency.

Michael Collins, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) Service Delivery Manager (operational support) said: “Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue already provide support to our service when we attend incidents where people need rescuing and releasing before we can provide emergency treatment. The co-responder scheme means they continue to support our service to help us save lives, and we thank them for helping us to make a real difference to local people.“

People interested in becoming a Community First Responder can refer to the EMAS website for more details.