West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is due to begin co-responding to certain emergency ambulance calls for the first time as part of a pilot starting next in October 2016.
We are working in partnership with South East Coast Ambulance Service to initially support Red 1 calls, where there is an immediate threat to life.
To date around 40 of our staff, including our 12 new wholetime recruits, have successfully completed SECAmb’s Immediate Emergency Care Responder course.
The pilot will initially involve our specialist Technical Rescue Unit; our Crewing Optimisation Group and a group of six Flexi-Duty officers. These are all staff who work across the county according to need.
Calls will be assigned to duty WSFRS staff according to their location, availability and the severity of the medical incident. If they do attend they will always be supported by the nearest available SECAmb resource as soon as they are available.
COG and TRU members will respond to medical emergencies in pairs. Officers may respond to some incidents on their own or with a colleague where appropriate.
FRS crews will not be involved in the transport of patients. Our role is to provide emergency lifesaving medical intervention until appropriate ambulance service resources arrive.
Every co-responding call we attend will be logged and analysed during the pilot to assess any positive impact we have on medical emergencies, while examining whether attendance has had any adverse impact on other FRS work.
Lee Neale, Acting Executive Director for Communities & Public Protection and Chief Fire Officer, said: “A huge amount of work has been carried out in preparation for this trial and we are very pleased to have a team of staff who are trained to the high standard the ambulance service require to be able to respond to some of their emergency calls.
“It goes without saying that, if a life is at risk, we want to do all that we can to help that person.
“The idea behind our Crewing Optimisation Group has always been to provide additional support within communities as and when required. It is a real boost that all of the team, including two of our new wholetime recruits who are about to join them, have undergone this enhanced medical training.
“For the purposes of this pilot we have decided our TRU and some of our Flexi-Duty officers are best-placed to respond to medical emergencies initially but we will obviously be assessing how this works as the pilot progresses.
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the ambulance service and will continue to look at new ways of working to provide the best possible services to the communities where we live and work.”
SECAmb Clinical Quality Manager and co-responding lead Matt England said: “This collaboration is about ensuring our most seriously ill patients are seen as quickly as possible. When someone is in cardiac arrest, with every minute that passes their chances of survival diminish significantly. We’ll always assign an ambulance response to the call at the same time but if firefighters reach the scene of an emergency before ambulance crews, they will be able to begin vital life-saving treatment.”
For more information, go to www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-rescue-service
Image By Matt England from SECAmb with Chief Fire Officer Lee Neale