Firefighters at Stocksbridge station have responded to more than 50 medical emergencies, two months after the launch of South Yorkshire’s first 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 sees firefighters called out to certain life-threatening incidents at the same time as an ambulance.
Medical emergencies attended since the scheme went live on 1 November 2015 include several cardiac arrests and incidents stating chest pains and breathing difficulties. At other incidents, firefighters have provided support and made the patient comfortable until the ambulance service arrived on scene.
Training for firefighters taking part in the pilot included basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.
An EFR is despatched at the same time as an ambulance and does 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.
They also support and complement other volunteer community first responder schemes within South Yorkshire, ensuring the level of medical provision to local communities is supplemented.
Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow and the scheme does not impact fire cover.
On-call firefighters at Rossington and Dearne fire stations have become the latest in South Yorkshire to attend EFR calls.
Head of Emergency Response at SYFR Phil Shillito said: “Two months after this scheme went live, our firefighters are already showing the incredible value they can add to their communities and the role we can play as a fire service in enhancing the work of our emergency service partners and volunteer community first responders.
“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. 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.”
YAS Head of Community Resilience Paul Stevens said: “The demand placed upon blue light emergency services increases every year and our approaches to providing the best response and best patient outcomes are continually evolving. This is an innovative and alternative way of working with our partners which will lead to more lives being saved.”