Ambulance and Fire Services join forces for new North East blue light trial

Photo: Screen grab/ North East Ambulance Service NHS.

A new six-month trial scheme will see North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and the four Fire and Rescue Services based in the North East work together to save more lives.

The trail means that Emergency Medical Response Units, known as EMRs, will deliver emergency medical services.

The service will be carried out by the Fire Service when requested by the ambulance service.

This follows the 20 per cent increase in 999 calls that was reported by the Ambulance Services.

The trial is part of a review of the terms and conditions of firefighters by the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services, looking at the current and future demands on the service and profession.

NEAS Director Caroline Thurlbeck said: “NEAS receives a new 999 call every 65 seconds, and in an emergency, seconds count.

“During this innovative trial, an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) will be dispatched at the same time as an ambulance. Our ambition for this trial is to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a life-threatening illness or injury in the community.

“The location of EMR’s within local communities could mean they are nearer to the scene and can deliver lifesaving care in those first critical minutes of the emergency until an ambulance clinician arrives, enhancing the usual emergency medical response from NEAS.”

During the trial, Emergency Medical Response Units, in the form of fire appliances, will deliver emergency medical services when requested by NEAS. The emergency medical services included may involve attending calls where people are suffering from chest pain, difficulty in breathing, cardiac arrest and unconsciousness not due to trauma.

Chris Lowther, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Saving lives has always been at the core of what we do and crews are used to providing life-saving first aid at incidents.

“Our trial is looking at how we can extend that work in partnership with NEAS as a part of our clear purpose to create the safest communities.

“Responding to fires and emergencies will always be the top priority for our crews but it makes sense to enable properly trained fire fighters to deliver appropriate medical assistance if they can get to the scene first while an ambulance is on its way.”

The trial officially launches in County Durham and Darlington, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland on 11 January and it will run until 30 June 2016, being monitored on a daily basis by all parties to ensure it remains an effective scheme offering a level of quality patient care in the local community.

Throughout the trial, data will be gathered to allow for a full evaluation following its completion.

Ms Lowther added: “At NEAS we are already supported by Community First Responder volunteers who work tremendously hard and do a fantastic job in their local areas.

“The addition of EMRs will further strengthen our response in these communities and the two models will work side-by-side to save more lives.”

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