Firefighters to continue supporting South Western Ambulance Service

FIREFIGHTERS from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to assist ambulance crews with medical emergencies.

Since the early stages of the pandemic, firefighters across the South West have been working with South Western Ambulance Service – driving ambulances and administering aid.

The shared crews have so far attended more than 30,000 calls, more than half of which are within the highest two priority calls, which are to people in life threatening or serious conditions.

With the current winter pressures on the NHS and surge in Omicron cases, this arrangement has been extended and will now continue until April 2022.

Will Warrender, the Chief executive of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This helps us ensure the most effective care possible to communities right across the South West to boost our Covid-19 emergency response this winter.

“This partnership is even more vital as another wave of coronavirus affects the country and our service continues to experience increased demand alongside winter pressure placing significant pressures on our resources.

“In order to continue with effective and responsive patient care, we have been working with various partners and agencies, to manage this challenge and are extremely grateful for the invaluable support we have received during the pandemic, from the region’s five fire and rescue services.’’

Fire officers will continue to work alongside ambulance staff by driving vehicles and assisting clinicians to provide care to patients.

SWASFT was the only ambulance trust in England to approve and train fire personnel to drive on blue lights for the first phase of the partnership.

Typical tasks include driving urgent care vehicles, administering immediate aid, the safe movement of patients and supporting SWASFT crews in ensuring patients receive the care they need at home or on the way to hospital.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “Firefighters from right across our service, and the wider South West, have been supporting the ambulance service since April 2020. I am extremely grateful to them all for their support.

“Many of our firefighters are highly trained emergency response drivers, accustomed to dealing with emergency situations and I know they want to help in any way they can during the pandemic.

“Agencies have been working closely together throughout the pandemic so far to help keep residents safe, and the collaboration between our fire and rescue service and the ambulance service helps to ensure our residents get medical care quickly, when they need it.

“Our firefighters are able to use their transferable skills to support the ambulance service and the wider community in a variety of challenging roles, and I am incredibly proud of the work they are doing.”

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