A joint emergency services team set up to reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield has picked up a major health award.
The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, set up by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police and supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, won the award for best NHS Collaboration at the Health Business Awards 2016 event in London.
The team is four months into a six-month pilot which sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen.
So far the project has carried out more than 150 crime prevention checks and 250 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms.
The team also responds to help people at, low priority incidents, including helping almost 40 people who have had a fall, are not injured, but are unable to get up on their own.
LIFE team staff have also helped find missing people and visited vulnerable people who have either been victims of crime or are at risk of anti-social behaviour.
Some of this work traditionally takes police officers and paramedics off the road for many hours.
SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “This award is the best possible example of our commitment to collaborate with our emergency services partners. It’s also deserved recognition for a brand new team, which proves emergency services are working together locally to help make people safer and healthier.
“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work.”
Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “I am delighted that the LIFE team have won this national award, which recognises that the emergency services are working well together through collaboration to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”.
Dr Steven Dykes, Deputy Medical Director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “It’s great to see this example of joint working recognised at a national level, particularly as it has benefited many local residents in its first few months by providing them with an integrated approach to their social and medical needs.”
The team operates using two specialist vehicles and consists of four staff – two South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employees and two South Yorkshire Police community support officers (PCSOs).
The scheme has been funded by South Yorkshire Fire Authority for six months and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness. If successful, it could be extended and taken to other parts of South Yorkshire.
Last year the Government announced new proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together. It wants to encourage collaboration by introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
In South Yorkshire, fire crews already attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.
Work has also now started on a joint police and fire station in Maltby, whilst five ambulance stand-by points will also be created at five other fire service premises across the county.
Caption (l-r): Catherine James (Yorkshire Ambulance Service), Rob Hall (LIFE), Jonathan Dyson (South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue), Jenny Lax (South Yorkshire Police), Jayne White (LIFE)