A life-saving partnership between ambulance staff and firefighters will be extended with the launch of a new co-responding trial in Cambridgeshire.
Over the last few months, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has been working with six fire and rescue services on a pilot that will involve firefighters attending cardiac arrests.
The scheme will begin on a trial basis today in March and Ramsey in Cambridgeshire.
It will see firefighters deployed in response cars in addition to ambulance clinicians and community first responders to calls where a patient is not breathing and their heart has stopped beating.
Rob Ashford, Acting Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: We already work closely with 999 colleagues and this is an extension of our partnership to help patients with an immediately life-threatening condition.
Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response (CFR), public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add significantly to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support. We know that the quicker someone starts cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.
The ambulance service will continue to send clinicians to such patients as a top priority, but the best thing for the patient is to get someone trained in basic life support to their side as quickly as possible.
Firefighters are trained in basic life support and equipped with defibrillators and the Trust will be providing on-going basic life support to those taking part in the trial.
Rick Hylton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: We are very excited to begin this trial. Our on-call crews taking part are already at the heart of their communities and have been very enthusiastic during the planning stages and are keen to get started.
We are passionate about providing the best possible service to the people of Cambridgeshire and by linking up with EEAST we will be able to help each other in delivering life-saving assistance.
The pilot scheme with the six fire and rescue services in the East will eventually roll out to more than 20 locations in the East of England to help save more lives.