The trial of a potentially life-saving scheme in which Surrey firefighters attend certain medical emergencies with South East Coast Ambulance Service will be expanded from next week (Monday 23 May).
Following early success of the trial, which began at the end of September last year, trained firefighters will now not only attend cardiac arrest calls but also other serious calls such as someone fitting or falling unconscious.
All firefighters involved in the trial have volunteered to undertake Immediate Emergency Care Responder training developed by SECAmb. The training enables firefighters to provide treatment to patients in the moments before ambulance crews arrive much in the same way as SECAmb’s Community First Responders (CFRs). Ambulance clinicians are always assigned to attend a call at the same time as a fire co-responder or CFR.
The trial, which is part of SECAmb’s wider ongoing work of emergency service collaboration across its region, is similar to a number of trials taking place elsewhere in the country with SECAmb also working with its three other fire services in its region to improve patient care. The trial officially runs until the end of June and it is hoped that following analysis it will be made permanent.
To date, more than 190 firefighters have signed up and in total co-responded to more than 370 incidents.
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. We’ll also 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.
“We’re very pleased with the early feedback from the trial and that we’ve been able to expand the trial to include other potentially serious emergencies. When someone is in cardiac arrest, with every minute that passes their chances of survival diminish significantly. Likewise with other serious but not immediately life-threatening calls, a quick response and treatment is vital to try and prevent a situation from deteriorating.”
Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council's Cabinet Associate for Community Safety Services, said: "This initiative is progressing well and I'm pleased we're able to expand it so that firefighters can respond to a wider range of incidents. Working closely with the ambulance service in this way means we can better serve our communities by giving the fastest possible response to people who are seriously ill.
"Fire and rescue emergencies of course come first for firefighters but when there are trained crews and vehicles available they will do all they can as part of this pilot scheme to improve a patient's chances of survival while an ambulance is on its way."