Llanwrtyd Wells Fire Station, in the heart of Powys, is an on-call Fire and Rescue Station crewed by members of the local community. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the station providing a co-responder service, in partnership with the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust, to support its communities in their hour of need. Llanwrtyd Wells became the third fire and rescue station within Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to volunteer to provide this service following Reynoldston (Gower) and Crymych.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been operating co-responder schemes in partnership with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust since 1998. The co-responder capability project is a partnership between Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) and the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust (WAST), where Fire and Rescue Service personnel assist the Trust by providing life support on scene prior to the arrival of the Ambulance Service.
MAWWFRS crews are highly trained in trauma and emergency care and equipped with co-responder vehicles that carry equipment such as oxygen and automatic external defibrillation.
On Tuesday, 23 November, Llanwrtyd Wells Station hosted an event to celebrate the 20-year milestone and invited a number of key supporters from the community which included the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, High Sheriff, Fire Authority Members, the Mayor and members of the Local Community Council.
Station Manager Phill Morris and Watch Manager Steve Amor opened the evening by providing a history of the co-responder journey for the Station, which included the fundraising of over £20,000 to replace the former Land Rover vehicle with the current Volvo 4×4 vehicle in 2016. The fundraising effort was planned to take two years, but the community rallied together, and the target was reached in only six months. Watch Manager Amor gave examples of when the co-responder had provided lifesaving support to a number of people in the local community and the positive impact that the service had provided over the past 20 years. A number of guests that were invited to the event provided their sincere thanks to the Station for the work they have carried out and also talked about the impact that the Station had provided to the local area.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas commented: ‘Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is extremely grateful to the community of Llanwrtyd Wells and the surrounding area for their continued support towards the co-responder vehicle at its local Fire Station. This 20-year celebration highlights the importance placed on providing a first-class medical response to the community.
‘The Fire and Rescue Service responds to a wide range of incidents and the provision of an Emergency Medical Response (EMR) to support our colleagues in WAST is further evidence of public sector collaboration to assist our communities when they need us most.
‘Throughout mid and west Wales, the central placement of Fire Stations within our communities often means that we can get to the scene first and respond to casualties with medical conditions, such as cardiac arrest.
‘Primary responsibility for responding to medical emergencies lies with the Ambulance Service. These initiatives in no way replace these services, but rather enhance them in a practical way by making good use of medically trained and suitably equipped firefighters, who are often closer to the scene of an incident than ambulance crews. Whilst firefighters will provide an initial response to certain categories of call, ambulance crews will also be mobilised to these calls, working with the firefighters when they arrive.’
Stephen Roberts, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Operations Manager (Community Support), said: ‘It has been privilege to have worked with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service co-responder scheme and to see it evolve to where it is today. The partnership has provided the best possible care to thousands of emergency calls and we are now looking to expand the role in the near future, providing the co-responders with new skills and equipment.’
Deputy Chair of the Fire Authority and Powys County Councillor Mr Kelvyn Curry said: ‘I would like to thank the firefighters at Llanwrtyd Wells Fire and Rescue Station for the invaluable service that they provide to their community. The very fact that a fundraising target of £20,000, which was forecasted to be reached over two years, was in fact achieved within six months alone clearly shows how cherished the co-responder scheme is to the local area. Here’s to the next 20-years of the Llanwrtyd Wells Co-responder scheme.’
Northern Division Commander, Group Manager Craig Thomas added: ‘I am proud of the work carried out by the crews at Llanwrtyd Well Fire Station to protect their communities. The Station is crewed by local people who provide fire and co-responder cover for 365 days of the year, responding to emergencies from their homes or primary employment, day and night; a commitment which I am truly thankful for. It was a pleasure to attend the event and listen to the amazing work carried out by the crews.’