The next generation of health practitioners have pitched ideas for how the fire service and doctors can work better together to improve wellbeing in South Yorkshire.
Dozens of University of Sheffield medical students were provided a placement opportunity with South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to give them a practical insight into potential ties between the fire service and health bodies.
The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health students then presented their ideas for how the fire service could help to reduce demand on health services in South Yorkshire in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition.
The winning group came up with innovative ways in which the fire service can help to prevent falls, with one in three people aged over 65 in the UK experiencing a fall each year.
The group’s ideas included training fire service staff to identify fall hazards, setting up a referral pathway between the fire service and GPs and developing a mobile application which details practical steps people can take around the home to reduce their risk of falls.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “We already carry out tens of thousands of home safety visits across South Yorkshire every year. Often, it is the unique skills and reputation of our staff which are the reason why the fire service is successful in interacting with high risk individuals, where other agencies may be less successful. So it makes sense that we use this contact to better support wider health outcomes in our communities.
“We were impressed by the enthusiasm of all the students in researching their ideas for how the fire and rescue service can contribute to local health outcomes, and were particularly impressed with the innovative approaches taken by the winning team.”
Nationally, fire and rescue services, NHS England, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and other partners, including Age UK, have been working together to explore how they can work better together to demand on health and social care systems and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.
Current collaborations in South Yorkshire include a range of health related programmes and projects, from co-responding with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, through to several preventative activities with third sector organisations, like Alzheimer’s Society and Royal National Institute for the Blind.