March firefighters to attend medical calls

Fire engine
Fire engine

March firefighters will be forming a lifesaving partnership with ambulance staff by responding to cardiac arrests.

East of England Ambulance Service has been working on a pilot which has seen firefighters deployed in response cars to calls where the patient is not breathing or their heart has stopped beating. Ambulance crews will also attend.

Now the scheme has been extended to March and Ramsey on a trial basis.

Cambridgeshire’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rick Hylton said: “We are very excited to begin this trial. Our on-call crews taking part are already at the heart of their communities and have been very enthusiastic during the planning stages and are keen to get started.

“We are passionate about providing the best possible service to the people of Cambridgeshire and by linking up with EEAST we will be able to help each other in delivering life-saving assistance.”

The ambulance service’s acting director of service delivery, Rob Ashford, said: “We already work closely with 999 colleagues and this is an extension of our partnership to help patients with an immediately life-threatening condition.

“Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response (CFR), public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add significantly to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support. We know that the quicker someone starts cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.

“The ambulance service will continue to send clinicians to such patients as a top priority, but the best thing for the patient is to get someone trained in basic life support to their side as quickly as possible.”

The pilot scheme with the six fire and rescue services in the East will eventually roll out to more than 20 locations.