Dawlish firefighters receive first of new co-responder vehicles

Dawlish Fire Station in Devon has received the first in a fleet of new vehicles for attending life-threatening medical emergencies.

Dawlish attended 561 co-responder calls in 2016/17 and has taken ownership of the first of a fleet of Ford Kugas, which have been designed to meet the needs of the crews specifically to attend these types of calls.

Dawlish Station Commander Dave Williams said, “We’re a busy fire station, particularly when it comes to co-responder calls. This vehicle will allow us to attend medical emergencies quickly and safely with the right kit to start giving urgent medical attention.”

Co-responding is a voluntary activity carried out on 20 on-call fire stations across Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The service works with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to ensure the quickest possible response to certain medical emergencies.

While fires have decreased, in part due to the service’s community safety work and national fire safety legislation, medical emergencies have continued to rise. The service now attends more co-responder calls than primary fires.

So when ambulance control receives a 999 call, local firefighters will be mobilised alongside the ambulance service and provide initial medical treatment and care to patients before the arrival of the ambulance. The firefighters involved have been trained by the ambulance service to deliver basic life support, oxygen therapy and defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator.

Area Manager Neil Blackburn, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said, “We’d like to thank employers and families for contributing to this successful scheme, by allowing these personnel to respond day or night when they are needed within the area where they live or work.”

Rob Horton, the Responder Manager for South Western Ambulance Service, said, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to provide this co-responder service for our patients. Early medical intervention undoubtedly saves lives and every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest. The sooner that patients can receive help the more likely they are to make a full recovery.”