Proposal to base paramedics in fire stations to improve 999 emergency response

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:10 24 January 2013

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Paramedics could be based at fire stations across Norfolk to improve emergency responses to major incidents.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue has cut costs by £2.5m in the last two years and is expected to save a further £1.3m by 2014/15.

And chief fire officer Nigel Williams told councillors yesterday the best way to preserve frontline services while saving money is to make the most of their assets, including their stations.

Mr Williams was asked whether any more could be done to help firefighters attending road crashes.

This followed the inquest of Catherine Barton, who died on the B1107 near Thetford golf club, when her Ford Ka was involved in a crash with a Volkswagen Golf in August 2011. Firefighters and police were first on the scene and praised by coroner William Armstrong for doing all they could to get more medical assistance for Miss Barton.

But the 27-year-old’s chances of survival were “substantially” reduced by “systematic and individual” failings within the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), Mr Armstrong said last week.

Chief fire officer Mr Williams told yesterday’s fire and rescue overview and scrutiny committee he was aware crews had “some frustrations” over what happened at the scene. He said he was awaiting suggestions from the coroner, with fire, police and ambulance services expected to be consulted.

After further questions about the impact of ambulance delays, Mr Williams said they were looking to improve firefighters’ trauma care skills although it was important to remember they were not paramedics.

He added: “We are taking steps to have a number of fire stations used by the ambulance service.”

County councillor Nigel Shaw said: “Why can’t there be a paramedic station in each fire station?”

The EEAST has said it acknowledged the coroner’s comments and had already taken measures in response to Miss Barton’s death, including better communication between emergency services.

The EDP launched its Ambulance Watch campaign in response to concerns over the service’s performance.

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