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Working together to save lives

Firefighters are helping ambulance crews to reach patients quicker in an effort to save more lives.

Experienced in gaining entry to property when there are threats to life, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is assisting colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service to respond to emergency calls sooner.

As a result, about 500 patients per year are being reached between 50 minutes and an hour quicker than they would have done without the partnership.

Previously, police officers attended but with the fire service able to attend the response times are quicker and with the specialist skills and equipment to enter a property faster, there is a huge benefit health wise to the patients.

The Collapsed Behind Closed doors policy is a collaborative approach between the emergency services to ensure help can quickly get to those patients unable to answer their door due to injury or lack of consciousness.

An example of when the fire service would be called into action is when a 999 caller suddenly becomes unresponsive on the line, prompting an assumption they have collapsed and could have had a cardiac arrest or stroke.

They would also be involved if a family member has concerns they cannot reach a relative and it is felt an urgent search of their property is needed.

Amanda Johnson, senior project manager for the Emergency Services Collaboration Programme, said: “It is a statutory duty to collaborate, but it is also sensible to collaborate.

“This partnership demonstrates it is not about one service, it is about what is best for the public. Collaboration works in the best interests of the public, rather than what is best for each service.

“It is about an emergency service being the most efficient to respond. The primary need is to get into the property so the ambulance crew can do its job.”

Helen Rowland, sector business and partnerships lead for mid and south Essex with the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “We are very thankful for this partnership as it means we are able to get to and treat patients sooner.

“If you think about it from a member of the public’s point of view, it makes absolute sense for firefighters to assist in gaining entry as they have the equipment needed.

“There is, of course, the potentially significant clinical benefit of getting to patients quicker. But, also, our crews are not being delayed on scene for that extra hour and can move on to the next patient.

“That is fantastic.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “This project is a great example of collaboration in action, helping to keep people safer but also realising cost savings of £600,000 over a 10-year period that can be reinvested into frontline services. We are working effectively and efficiently which is great news for everyone.”

Page published on 09/03/2023.
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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

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