Firefighters and ambulance staff join forces

Contributed by editor on Oct 14, 2004 - 02:15 AM


Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent Ambulance Trust are launching a pilot scheme that could potentially save many lives.

From November, some firefighters will be able to respond to immediately life-threatening medical emergencies, but they will always be supported by ambulance staff in what is known as a ‘co-responding’ scheme.

The new scheme is being piloted at three retained stations – Dymchurch, Hoo and Edenbridge – in a six-month trial. A number of firefighters at each station have volunteered to extend their existing first-aid training to include the use of equipment, such as defibrillators, which can give people a better chance of surviving potentially fatal heart attacks. They will also carry oxygen and be trained in basic life-support skills.

Mr Tom Mason, Vice Chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We have always worked closely with ambulance staff at incidents, but this takes our relationship a step further and will be of real benefit to the people of Kent.

�We had a very positive reaction to the idea when we spoke to retained firefighters about the scheme. They raised lots of useful questions which have been helpful during our talks with Kent Ambulance Trust.�

Kent Ambulance Trust will train the firefighters, provide and maintain all the necessary equipment.

Kevin Bate from Kent Ambulance Trust, said: “The quicker casualties can get help the better their chances of a full recovery. Having additional resources to call o­n in these areas could make all the difference. Our staff are looking forward to working with firefighters who will expand our network of co-responders.â€?

The two services have been discussing co-responding over the last few months, following government proposals in the Fire Service White Paper. Throughout the trial period the two services will work closely together and a full assessment will be made after six months.