The agreement between Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) means the people of Hampshire can be kept safer and lives can be saved during this critical time.
Firefighters have volunteered to be redeployed to SCAS to utilise their skills for an initial period of four weeks to support the efforts of our health colleagues in tackling the virus.
HFRS has also been supporting several initiatives throughout the pandemic, including re-purposing Basingstoke Fire Station to become a community vaccination centre.
The current spike in cases has put severe pressure on our critical services, particularly in health and social care settings. Despite teams across SCAS working tirelessly to reach communities across Hampshire, they have had to request additional support to cope with demand at this time.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two emergency services have been working in partnership since 2004 delivering Co-Responding from a number of fire stations in Hampshire.
Co-Responders are firefighters who respond to life-threatening medical emergencies, providing patient care prior to an ambulance resource attending the incident. These firefighters utilise the HFRS Immediate Emergency Care (IEC) capability and equipment when responding under the co-responding crewing model.
The firefighters who have volunteered to join SCAS already have extensive knowledge in delivering IEC and are upscaling their existing skills to support our communities where it is needed most.
Firefighter Ben Carter, from St Mary’s Fire Station, said, “I’m proud to be supporting our NHS colleagues by driving ambulances.
“I volunteered during the first lockdown, and the experience reinforces the skills I already had as a firefighter, whilst also gaining an understanding of the extent of a paramedic’s role. My wife is in the NHS and we know how hard they’re all working to keep us safe.”
Assistant Director of Operations, Area Manager Dan Tasker said, “These volunteers are the definition of everyone playing their part in the fight of COVID-19. I am so proud to see our teams playing a key role in protecting the local community.
“I want to extend a huge thank to all those who have already volunteered their time and skills during this crucial time.
“HFRS are ready, willing and able to support our NHS colleagues wherever we can.”
Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said, “We are incredibly grateful to our partners in HFRS for their help and support during COVID-19.
“We currently have a small but growing number of firefighters from our local areas (Hampshire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire) assisting us. These are predominantly firefighters who were trained in Spring 2020 to be able to drive our ambulances under emergency conditions and are also IEC trained so that they can be directed by and assist the clinician at the scene of an emergency.
“Currently there are under 20 firefighters deployed across our region and we anticipate a further 20 will be deployed over the coming weeks; this is to support our 1,900 strong frontline workforce at these particularly challenging times. Our colleagues in the fire service will be working alongside our expert SCAS staff, driving our ambulances and assisting us in getting to those patients who really need our help, support and clinical treatment.
“Fire service colleagues have undergone driver training delivered by our SCAS teams but this will build on the skills they already have to help support local communities; many of whom are already co-responders in their local areas.
“This is a great opportunity to build on our joint-working relationships and also will provide a fabulous opportunity for SCAS and HFRS to learn from each other. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners for their assistance during this time as we work together to care for our communities and of course, our patients.”