Scheme where firefighters worked with paramedics on medical callouts is extended

A life-saving scheme that saw firefighters work alongside paramedics to attend medical emergencies has been extended to later in the year following some “outstanding outcomes”.

A life-saving scheme that saw firefighters work alongside paramedics to attend medical emergencies has been extended to later in the year following some “outstanding outcomes”.

Last November, crews from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service were sent out as emergency first responders (EFR) to patients with serious bleeding, chest pains, difficulty breathing or those in cardiac arrest.

It was the start of a three-month pilot scheme – paid for by a £5,000 contribution from East Midlands Ambulance Service – aimed at putting the skills and experience of already medically-trained firefighters to use.

Crews from Carlton, Worksop and Edwinstowe were called out to 676 medical 999 calls as part of the trial.

They were first on the scene at 387 of the emergencies, according to figures.

Now the fire and rescue service has announced that the EFR scheme has been extended until November.

“Following the completion of the initial three-month trial we undertook a review to review our performance, and whether there were any aspects of it that we could improve on,” said group manager Damien West, who has co-ordinated the fire service’s side of the trial.

“The outcome of this review was that, ultimately, the trial had delivered some outstanding outcomes. During the course of the three months, our crews attended 676 medical incidents to support EMAS (East Midlands Ambulance Service) and saved a number of lives.

“As a service we fully support the trial and are keen to collaborate and engage with our partners at EMAS.

“As a result, following consultation with trade union representatives and in line with the national trial, we extended our trial on a voluntary basis until later this year – while national negotiations on the long-term future of emergency first responding continue.

“Once these negotiations conclude we will know the next steps for emergency first responding within the fire and rescue service.

“Until then, however, we have currently got crews from one whole-time station, Edwinstowe, attending medical emergencies as part of the extended trial – whilst we have got crews from two retained stations, Collingham and Harworth, taking part in a similar, national EFR trial.

“I’m really proud of the great working relationship we have with our EMAS colleagues, and of course of the work that our crews have done – both as part of the initial and extended trials.

“They have saved lives and assisted people in their time of need, and that is what we are all about.”

The scheme involves retained firefighters across Nottinghamshire being immediately mobilised after the first ambulance crew to help provide critical care to patients while an ambulance is on its way.

Due to the close proximity of fire stations to their local community, they are, in some cases, able to arrive at the scene before the paramedics – saving vital minutes in administering care.

Michael Barnett-Connolly, head of community response at EMAS, said: “We are proud of the joint initiative with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service which has already helped to save more lives across Nottinghamshire.

“We have trained Community First Responders (CFRs) and retained fire responders across the whole East Midlands who, because they are based within their communities, can start the chain of survival for time critical emergency patients while an ambulance is on its way.

“By expanding their pilot, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue have increased the community cover across Nottinghamshire.”

Labour councillor Brian Grocock, who is a member of Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire and Rescue Authority, and represents Bestwood on the city council, said: “Firefighters have been very helpful and supportive of this particular system over a period of time and it’s been of service to the general public.

“The important thing is the partnership with all the other emergency services, and long may it continue.”

The trial will be reviewed again in November.