Firefighters in Collingham have been going the extra mile to support their local community in recent weeks – by attending medical emergencies as part of a national Emergency First Responder Scheme (EFR) trial.
The retained crew – who normally attend the fire station from home or work when alerted by a pager – took on the extra responsibility in January and have attended more than 50 medical calls so far.
As part of the scheme, unlike a normal fire and rescue call where they will attend the station and ride the fire engine, the firefighters take the first responder car home with them and are mobilised by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), after an ambulance, to emergencies where they may be able to get there a few minutes earlier – giving patients a much better chance of survival.
So far the calls have seen the crew giving vital medical care to patients in areas from within Collignham to as far as the Lincolnshire border, including helping people who have been unconscious, and others who were suffering from chest pain.
"We've got a number of first and co-responding schemes running across Nottinghamshire at the minute and I'm really pleased that we've been able to extend this trial to Collingham," said Group Manager Damien West, who oversees both the Service's North Group and also the Emergency First Responder Scheme trial.
"The crew has done an excellent job in organising the extra training they have needed to take part and, as the figures show, have already helped a significant amount of people in their local area."
The Collingham crew took over the Emergency First Responder responsibility from colleagues at Newark who had been doing the trial, along with colleagues from Harworth, since it first began in 2015.
"As a crew we are committed to helping people in our local community, which is why we didn't think twice about joining the Emergency First Responder scheme," said Collingham Watch Manager, Wayne Brooks.
"We don't attend medical emergencies instead of an ambulance, but the fact that we all live within the village means that we may be able to get to patients that little bit quicker than an ambulance.
"This can potentially mean patients are given treatment sooner and, if this gives people a better chance of survival then it really is only a good thing. Everybody has received us really well so far and the team on station have done an exceptional job in taking on the new responsibility.
"We are obviously all given medical training on our firefighter courses, so it has made a great deal of sense for us to be given the chance to use these life-saving skills within the Collingham area."
Also commenting on the trial, Pete Ripley, EMAS Associate Director of Operations said: "The community focused response model is something we have been doing for a number of years. We have Community First Responders (CFRs) and retained fire responders across the whole East Midlands and benefits are seen for those patients in a time critical emergency such as cardiac arrest.
"Having someone there who can provide basic life support, including defibrillation and CPR, within minutes of the collapse happening will improve the patient's chance of survival."