HAMPSHIRE firefighters are getting behind the wheel of ambulances to help paramedics cope with the pressures of the pandemic.
Up to 20 personnel are taking part in the scheme, with around 20 more set to be added soon, following an agreement between Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).
Severe pressure from a spike in virus cases prompted the ambulance service to request additional support to cope with the current demand.
Having volunteered for redeployment to SCAS, the firefighters are utilising their lifesaving skills for an initial period of four weeks.
HFRS assistant director of operations, area manager Dan Tasker, said: “These volunteers are the definition of everyone playing their part in the fight of Covid-19.
“I am so proud to see our teams playing a key role in protecting the local community.
“I want to extend a huge thank-you to all those who have already volunteered their time and skills during this crucial time.
“HFRS are ready, willing and able to support our NHS colleagues wherever we can.”
Most of the firefighters involved in the scheme were trained by SCAS in spring last year to drive ambulances under emergency conditions.
Their deployment – set to increase by another 20 in the coming weeks – adds to SCAS’s 1,900-strong frontline workforce.
“We are incredibly grateful to our partners in HFRS for their help and support during Covid-19,” said SCAS assistant director of operations Paul Jefferies.
“This is a great opportunity to build on our joint-working relationships and also will provide a fabulous opportunity for SCAS and HFRS to learn from each other.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners for their assistance during this time as we work together to care for our communities and, of course, our patients.”
It is one of several initiatives HFRS has supported throughout the coronavirus crisis, with Basingstoke fire station set to host a community vaccination centre.
It builds on collaboration between the two emergency services which has been in place since 2004 and included co-responder firefighters deployed to life-threatening medical emergencies from a number of Hampshire fire stations.