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Praise for life-saving partnership between ambulance and fire services

PUBLISHED: 09:45 03 March 2017

Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service.

Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service.

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Lives have been saved as a result of a pilot scheme that has seen cardiac arrest emergencies in Lowestoft, and parts of Suffolk, dealt with by firefighters.

Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service.
Green watch firefighters Mel Buck, Tom Pennington and Andy Patching with paramedic Fraser Farthing.Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service. Green watch firefighters Mel Buck, Tom Pennington and Andy Patching with paramedic Fraser Farthing.

A co-responding scheme between the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has been hailed as “very positive.”

Since October 21, five fire stations across Suffolk – Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Long Melford and Haverhill – have been involved with the life-saving partnership.

And in the past four-and-a-half months, SFRS has attended 169 cardiac arrest incidents with fire crews attending alongside community first responders or paramedics to administer crucial treatment. Lowestoft South have co-responded to the most call-outs of any station in the county.

The latest figures show that Lowestoft South fire station has had 60 call-outs since the scheme started, with Sudbury co-responding to 40 incidents, Felixstowe 29, Haverhill 26 and Long Melford 14.

Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service.Lowestoft South fire station have started a pilot project working with East of England Ambulance service.

With fire crews deployed along with the ambulance staff to 999 medical emergencies, the scheme has helped patients with an immediately life-threatening condition.

RELATED STORY: Co-response trial gets underway in town

The co-responding trial in Suffolk has formed part of a regional project in conjunction with EEAST, with the results to be factored into a national project that continues until later this month.

About 100 Suffolk firefighters at the five trial stations have been given additional training by the ambulance service to enhance their skills for dealing with cardiac arrests.

Equipment included on the fire engines has also been extended and refined so the crews carry the same trauma pack on board as ambulances and community first responders.

Group commander at SFRS, John Tiffen, who is based in Lowestoft, said: “This scheme is supplementing the ambulance response and in the short amount of time we have done it, we have made a difference.”

Gary Morgan, from EEAST, said: “The co-responding scheme between the ambulance service and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has been a successful pilot since it started.”

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, Matthew Hicks, added: “The co-responding pilot scheme has proved to be very positive in Lowestoft and indeed across all five areas of the county.”

WHAT THEY SAID

The co-responding trial in parts of Suffolk has been “crucial” in helping to save lives.

Group commander at SFRS, John Tiffen said: “In terms of the resources we bring by being on the scene quickly and the amount of quick work we have done for the patients, it has been a success and has undoubtedly saved lives.

“The firefighters joined up to save lives and protect the public. While this is an addition to the ambulance response and an extension to our role, we have made a difference in helping people and saving lives in the short amount of time we have done it.

“While we may be mobilised to a co-responding call-out, we want to reassure the public that we will still have a response for normal fire service work and any call-out that comes in.”

Gary Morgan, from EEAST, said: “Our fire co-responder colleagues have responded to numerous calls in Suffolk, which highlights how crucial this project can be to our critically ill patients.”

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