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Armed Forces Covenant

Firefighters Responding As Emergency First Responders

19/Jan/2017

Wholetime firefighters from Buxton, Dronfield, Matlock, Staveley, Long Eaton and Ilkeston are to respond as Emergency First Responders (EFR), using their skills and experience to give lifesaving care to patients suffering cardiac arrest and other serious conditions, as part of an ongoing pilot in partnership with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS). 

In May 2015 Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service (DFRS) took part in a UK wide pilot scheme that saw retained firefighters responding to medical emergencies as EFR’s.  This scheme is already well established throughout the country and in Derbyshire where retained firefighters have attended 1356 medical emergencies since the pilot began.  A three month extension to this whereby wholetime firefighters will respond as EFR’s, will build on the ongoing success of this pilot and support EMAS in providing a fast response to people in life-threatening emergencies until ambulance crews arrive; this will help to grow the community response that is also supported by dedicated Community First Responders. 

EFR firefighters are mobilised at the same time as ambulance crews, and are able to provide a rapid response to people in life-threatening emergencies.  This rapid response is possible as firefighters are based in the communities that they will be helping.  On arrival the EFR’s are able to use their skills and specialist equipment, which includes a defibrillator, oxygen, observation kits and trauma care equipment, to make a difference to life threatening ‘Red’ medical emergencies, such as a cardiac arrest, chest pains and unconsciousness, improving a patients chance of survival. 

Firefighters from Ilkeston and Long Eaton will be the first wholetime firefighters in Derbyshire to go live with an EFR response from Thursday 19 January 2017.  Wholetime firefighters based at the other stations joining the pilot are expected to go live in February when their training is complete. 

DFRS Area Manager Bob Curry said: “When someone is in cardiac arrest every second counts and this is where the fire and rescue service and its dedicated workforce of skilled firefighters are able to help.  

“Whilst our colleagues in the ambulance service have seen an approximate 6% year on year rise in demand for their services, through proactive prevention activity and education, the fire and rescue service has seen a 50% drop in calls for an emergency response.  We have therefore looked at other ways in which our firefighters can support partners and help improve the safety and wellbeing of its communities further. By building on the existing skills our firefighters are already equipped with allowing them to respond to a diverse range of emergency incidents, we were able to create a dedicated and effective team of EFR’s, who are already making a difference supporting the work of EMAS.” 

Peter Ripley, EMAS Associate Director of Operations said: “The community focuses response model is something we have been doing for a number of years.  We have Community First Responders (CFRs) and retained fire responders across the whole East Midlands and benefits are seen for those patients in a time critical emergency, such as a cardiac arrest. 

“Having someone there who can provide basic life support, including defibrillation and CPR, within minutes of the collapse happening, will improve the patient’s chance of survival.” 

Feedback from the additional wholetime stations joining the pilot will be evaluated by all parties to ensure the pilot scheme remains effective and continues to offer quality patient care in the local community.

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