A joint fire and police team set up to reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield has already visited hundreds of homes in the city, three months after it first launched.
The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, also supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, is half way through 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 team has carried out 101 crime prevention checks and 191 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms.
The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 26 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own.
The team has also helped find two 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 is a very encouraging start 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: “The team have made a promising start and are working really well together to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”
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.