HAMPSHIRE firefighters are driving ambulances in an effort to support vital NHS services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) firefighters involved in the scheme officially began their new roles with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) this week.
The two organisations have worked in partnership for 14 years under the co-responder scheme, and firefighters underwent training before taking on their new duties alongside clinicians, who continue to take the lead on all medical decisions and actions during call-outs.
Rob Cole, HFRS assistant director of operations, said it stood “ready and able” to help its partners. “This approach makes use of the firefighters’ professional capabilities around driving vehicles, usually fire appliances, on blue lights, and their existing immediate emergency care medical skills.
“We are proud of the hard work and professionalism of our amazing crews and staff helping to make life safer in any way we can. We already work closely with partners and unions and we welcome this agreement needed to deal with these unprecedented circumstances,” he said.
SCAS head of operations for community engagement and training, Nic Dunbar, added: “The skills that firefighters bring with them and their experiences of dealing with emergency services make them ideal to support us during the response to Covid-19.
“The two services are used to working together, and this support enables us to maintain the best possible service during a peak in demand and staff sickness levels.”
Meanwhile, Dorset & Wiltshire fire chiefs have reminded business owners to stop mail building up at their firm’s premises – which could exacerbate the effects of an arson attack.
Station manager Graham Kewley said: “While this reminder has not been prompted by a spike in incidents, we are becoming increasingly aware of the build-up of mail and advertising material on floors below mailboxes on commercial premises.
“We understand this is due to the delay in some small businesses reopening, but owners and managers should be aware of the increased arson risk that this presents and remove them regularly.”