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Firefighters to start driving ambulances as emergency services join forces

Credit: PA

More than 60 Norfolk firefighters are to start driving ambulances across the county from Monday to help relieve pressure on paramedics during the coronavirus outbreak.

All of the staff are employed as on-call firefighters and responded to a plea by chief fire officer Stuart Ruff to help the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST). All staff put forward to help are already blue light trained Emergency Fire Appliance Drivers and will drive frontline emergency NHS ambulances alongside EEAST paramedics.

Credit: ITV Anglia

“We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues in the fire and rescue service for their kind offer and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic. Covid 19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the fire service, the public, businesses and our other partners. We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.”

– Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer East of England Ambulance Service Trust

Two of Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service’s driving instructors have already been using one of the service’s non-operational lorries to move NHS supplies around Norfolk to ensure PPE equipment and ventilators are in the right places to support NHS colleagues in their duties.

The move to the frontline work follows a national agreement reached on Friday 27 March about utilising firefighters across the country to support the work of the NHS.

Credit: ITV Anglia

“We were asked to support EEAST and have been in discussions to find out what their needs are and how we can support them, without compromising our own emergency response on the frontline. I was pleased to see so many of our staff volunteer their services to our blue light colleagues. We have considered all the offers and at this stage we are able to release 62 of our on-call staff. Whilst all of this activity is occurring, we also continue to maintain our core functionality for firefighting and rescue to the public and this will not be compromised."

– Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

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