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Firefighters train to drive ambulances during coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 20:01 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:32 21 April 2020

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk firefighters will drive ambulances during coronavirus crisis to ease pressure on the ambulance service.

After completing a training course about 30 firefighters from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will drive ambulances to help paramedics answer emergency calls.

The firefighters, who are already trained to drive blue light vehicles, learnt basic life support and how to transfer patients safely. It also gave them a chance to familiarise themselves with the ambulances.

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Mark Hardingham, chief fire officer with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have worked hard to ensure our firefighters will be appropriately trained and protected for this redeployment, and it’s another example of the exceptional community spirit and action we’re seeing across the country. It is in our nature to help the public, and at this time the public can help us by simply staying at home.

“I’d like to say thank you to the firefighters and officers who have volunteered to support our friends in the ambulance service. In Suffolk, both services already work closely together at incidents and share several stations around the county.”

Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer with East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues in the fire and rescue service and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.

“Covid-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the fire service, the public, businesses and our other partners. We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.”

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Paul Marshall, head of operations for Suffolk and north Essex, said: “I feel hugely inspired right now because I know there are a lot of people out there who are very worried. But I feel this sense of togetherness is a demonstration of the emergency services at their best, coming together in the public’s time of need to meet this national emergency head on.”

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