Firefighters at Stocksbridge station will be responding to medical emergencies as they become the first in South Yorkshire to take part in the Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme.
The scheme is a joint initiative between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) which will see firefighters being called out to certain life-threatening incidents at the same time as an ambulance.
Training has included basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.
An EFR will be despatched at the same time as an ambulance and will not replace the usual emergency medical response from YAS. However, their location within the local community could mean they are nearer to the scene in those first critical minutes of a medical emergency, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance arrives.
Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow and the scheme will not impact fire cover.
Head of Emergency Response at SYFR Phil Shillito said: “Our role as a fire service will always be to protect our communities and reach and save those who are in danger as quickly as possible. Our firefighters already do a great job of performing a wide range of duties beyond traditional firefighting – from attending flooding incidents to rescuing people from road traffic collisions. So I think it’s only natural for us to look for other ways to extend our skills and support the work of other local bodies, like the ambulance service.
“With this in mind, this partnership can only enhance the service we provide and will improve outcomes for people in need across South Yorkshire.”
Paul Stevens, Head of Community Resilience at YAS, said: “We have a responsibility to ensure we explore every available option to improve clinical outcomes for people in South Yorkshire and we are delighted to be working in partnership with SYFR on the county’s Emergency First Responder scheme.
“We have a very clear ambition to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a cardiac arrest in the community. We want to have world class levels of survival from cardiac arrest and the expansion of this initiative is another important element in saving more lives.”