Emergency First Responders scheme given go-ahead

Emergency First Responders scheme given go-ahead

Published at 1:24pm 21st September 2015. (Updated at 3:12pm 22nd September 2015)

Firefighters in Ilkley could soon be helping people in life-threatening medical emergencies.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) have joined forces to run a 12-month Emergency First Responder pilot scheme.

The firefighters will be deployed at the same time as an ambulance to 'red' category calls, such as cardiac arrest patients, to provide time-critical care.

WYFRS Area Manager Nick Smith said: "Our firefighters are highly trained and skilled, not only in fighting fires but also in first aid.

"When someone collapses from cardiac arrest, their chance of survival drops 10% every minute until rescusitation is started.

"It makes absolute sense for firefighters who live and work in these rural localities, and who are already trained in resuscitation and the use of an Automated External Defibrilator, to get to the scene as early as possible to start this vital care.

"The Emergency First Responders will aim to arrive as quickly as possible, which should improve the outcomes for patients and ultimately save lives.

"Ambulance crews will continue to respond to these emergencies in the same way as they do now.

"This scheme provides an additional service to patients in rural communities, and is aimed at helping to save more lives."

Ilkley is one of three areas where the scheme is going to be piloted and part-time (retained) firefighters will be asked to volunteer for the role.

It's already been successful in other areas and was introduced by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service in 2013.

The role of an Emergency First Responder will be distinguished by a separate uniform and they will travel in a marked car with blue lights.

Nick Smith added: "The fire service already works closely with the ambulance service when attending incidents across West Yorkshire on a day-to-day basis and this innovative scheme shows our commitment to joint working, now and in the future, to ensure the best possible service we can give to the community.

"It is important to note that safeguards will be in place to make sure that the fire and rescue cover in these communities will not be affected by this pilot."

Dr David Macklin, Executive Director of Operations at YAS, said: "We have a responsibility to ensure we explore every available option to improve clinical outcomes for our patients. The Emergency First Responder scheme has already proven successful in Humberside and the East Riding. We are delighted to be working in partnership with WYFRS to pilot this scheme in West Yorkshire.

"We have a very clear ambition to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community. We want to have world class levels of survival from cardiac arrest and the development of this initiative is one more important element in saving more lives.

"West Yorkshire is already served by our award-winning Community First Responder teams who do a fantastic job as volunteers in their local areas. The addition of Emergency First Responders will further strengthen our response in these communities and the two models will work side by side to save more lives."