Firefighters to respond to medical calls ahead of paramedics

Firefighters will respond to medical calls ahead of paramedics Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A new pilot scheme which will see firefighters responding to medical emergencies ahead of paramedics will launch across the East Midlands from next month.

The scheme will see East Midlands Ambulance Service and the Fire andRescue Services based in the region work together to save more lives.

In a statement, the East Midlands Ambulance Service sites the figure that demand on their time is increasing by approximately 6 per cent year on year. They say that, in comparison, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service has seen a 50 per cent reduction in total incidents in the last decade.

“EMAS receives a new 999 call every 43 seconds, and in an emergency seconds count.

EMAS Head of Community Response, Michael Barnett-Connolly

Firefighters are already highly trained to care for patients suffering trauma. The Ambulance Service has added to their knowledge, teaching firefighters how to use basic life support, how to perform CPR and oxygen therapy.

The cars driven by EFRs are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and a defibrillator to help patients suffering a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.

The scheme officially launches in June 2015 when all six Fire and Rescue services in the East Midlands will go live with the pilot.

The pilot will be monitored on a daily basis and evaluated in December 2015 by all parties to measure the results.

“A number of our on-call firefighters have received extensive training and are ready to start responding to medical emergencies, within the communities they serve, as emergency first responders.

Acting Chief Executive Joy Smith

The Fire Brigades Union is against the scheme, which it says could harm firefighters' well being and fire cover.

"We are firefighters, not paramedics, which is a highly trained role. We can only give a basic level of care and would always require paramedic assistance. "Some brigades in the East Midlands send fire engines to medical emergencies, therefore depriving the community of Fire and Rescue cover.

Phil Coates, Regional Chair of the FBU