Co-response trial gets underway in town

Lowestoft firefighters. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft firefighters. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

From today, cardiac arrest emergencies in parts of the county will be dealt with by firefighters as a pilot scheme gets under way. Five fire stations in Suffolk, including Lowestoft, are taking part.

It is part of a life-saving partnership which will see fire crews deployed at the same time as first responders and paramedics to 999 medical emergencies such as choking, severe chest pains or cardiac arrest.

All firefighters have already been trained in trauma and first aid but around 100 at the five trial stations have been given additional training.

Equipment carried on fire appliances has been extended so they have the same on board as ambulances. Wendy Risdale-Barrs, regional blue-light collaboration lead for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: 'This is to get the best patient outcome and is not about performance or targets – just about patient care. The fire service has been trained in basic life support and this is just an extension of what they have been taught.' Matthew Hicks, the county council's cabinet member for public protection, said: 'We currently have 11 fire stations in the county where we work with the police or ambulance service and more are planned. The co-responding trial in Suffolk will support further blue-light integration work.

'Excellent work has been done with all the relevant bodies, including the unions, and this is a joint project that everyone has engaged with and supported.'

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