Fire appliances in Essex respond to cardiac arrests

3. Essex Co-responder - Ongar Group (2)Fire appliances in Basildon, Colchester and Frinton in Essex are now able to respond to blue light medical emergencies as part of a life-saving collaboration between Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Firefighters at the three stations have received enhanced first aid training and in the case of Red One cardiac arrest calls where a patient’s heart has stopped or they are no longer breathing a fire appliance will be deployed and the crew will be able to give CPR and use a defibrillator on the patient.

An ambulance crew will always be sent to the scene but having fire crews on the ground to deliver expert medical care immediately could improve their chances of survival.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said, “This is another example of the collaborative work taking place between blue light services in Essex. We have resources in these communities and by giving them the training to deal with medical emergencies and making them available to attend on blue lights we can help ensure that people suffering a cardiac arrest have the best patient care possible.”

Rob Ashford, Acting Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said, “We already work closely with 999 colleagues and this is an extension of our partnership to help patients with an immediately life-threatening condition.

“Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response (CFR), public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add significantly to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support. We know that the quicker someone starts cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.

“The ambulance service will continue to send clinicians to such patients as a top priority, but the best thing for the patient is to get someone trained in basic life support to their side as quickly as possible.

“Firefighters are already trained in basic life support and are equipped with defibrillators and the Trust will be providing on-going basic life support.”

The co responding scheme in Essex also includes on call crews at Coggeshall, Newport and Ongar responding to blue light medical response incidents in specially marked and equipped service response car.