Firefighters in Carlton, Edwinstowe and Worksop are using their skills and expertise to give lifesaving care to patients suffering cardiac arrest and other serious conditions, as part of a three-month trial supporting colleagues at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
The Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme sees firefighters being immediately mobilised after the first ambulance crew to help provide critical care to patients while an ambulance is on its way. Due to the close proximity of fire stations to their local community, they are, in some cases, able to arrive at the scene more quickly, saving vital minutes in administering care.
The trial has been running since 1 November and so far fire crews have attended 126 medical emergencies in support of EMAS.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Damien West said: “In 2015, retained firefighters at Newark and Harworth joined a national trial for Emergency First Responders - since then we have been looking at ways in which we can continue to help more and more people, by using the lifesaving skills that firefighters have to give patients the best possible chance of survival in the communities we serve.
“Our firefighters are all trained to a very high standard, carry special life-saving equipment and are used to providing that first medical intervention in an emergency when every second counts.
“Fire crews will be mobilised immediately after the closest ambulance crew is dispatched and, if our firefighters are closer and can get there a few minutes sooner, they can make all the difference. Once the ambulance crew has arrived, they will take over.”
The Emergency Fire Responder scheme is already well-established in parts of Nottinghamshire, as well as elsewhere in the country, where firefighters respond in their communities in support of their local ambulance service.
The scheme enhances the valued services already provided by dedicated Community First Responders (volunteers who are trained and supported by EMAS to provide a fast response to people in life-threatening emergencies, whilst the ambulance travels to the scene).
In 2015 retained firefighters at Newark and Harworth joined a UK-wide trial into Emergency First Response, and feedback from the additional three stations will be fed into the national trial, as well as informing future co-responding schemes and collaboration with partner agencies in Nottinghamshire.
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."
Watch Manager Nicola Bottomley is part of the trial at Edwinstowe Fire Station. She said: “All of the calls we have responded to so far have been received positively – people are happy to see us and our colleagues at EMAS are appreciative of the work we are doing.
“It’s an opportunity to save more lives, and ensure the people in our communities receive the best care they can, which has got to be a good thing.”