London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade team up for life saving trial

Chris Hartley, Head of First Responders, London Ambulance Service.

Chris Hartley, Head of First Responders, London Ambulance Service.

A new initiative, which sees London’s firefighters responding to life-threatening emergencies alongside paramedics from London Ambulance Service in four of the capital’s boroughs, launched on 16 February.

The four month trial allows fire crews – who already carry defibrillators – to respond alongside the ambulance service to a small number of people with an immediately life threatening condition across Merton, Wandsworth, Newham and Lambeth until a paramedic arrives on scene.

Chris Hartley-Sharpe (right), Head of First Responders at the Service, said “Our ambulance crews are facing unprecedented demand, treating over 1500 critically ill patients every day and a further 2000 patients with less serious illnesses and injuries. This initiative is a fantastic opportunity for the emergency services to work together and share resources and help save even more lives across London.

“London’s fire crews will respond to a small number of calls a week alongside our ambulance crews, which means that if they are in a closer proximity, they start basic life support until a skilled clinician arrives.”

Under the trial, if a 999 call received into London Ambulance Service’s control room meets a set criteria, both the brigade and the LAS will be dispatched to the incident at the same time. The criteria covers calls to patients whose condition is immediately life threatening as a result of cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Gareth Bacon, Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, which runs London Fire Brigade, said, “As the number of fires and fire deaths continue to decline across London I’m delighted that firefighters can find new ways to use their excellent training and remarkable skill to help save even more lives.

“When it comes to treating someone in cardiac arrest, if firefighters are closest, it makes perfect sense that they should respond to improve the survival chances of those in need of rapid help.”

Chris Hartley-Sharpe added, “We’re committed to providing the best possible care for all of our patients and are always looking for new ways to improve patient outcomes. We know that around 32 percent of people survive a cardiac arrest in a public place but, where there is a defibrillator and someone trained to use it, the chance of survival can increase to 80 percent. The more people available to respond to these types of incidents, the better.”

The trial is the latest in a number of initiatives supported by the London Ambulance Service to increase cardiac arrest survival rates in the capital.

The Metropolitan Police Service is already working together with the London Ambulance Service, which has seen 110 defibrillators added to police vehicles, allowing officers to respond alongside the ambulance service to people in cardiac arrest.

Last year, the London Ambulance Service launched a campaign, which saw over 1000 accredited defibrillators added to shops, gyms and businesses across London. More recently, the service embarked on an exciting new partnership with the GoodSAM app, in which clinically trained ambulance staff and members of the public trained to an approved standard are able to sign up as volunteers to respond to life-threatening emergency calls, including cardiac arrests.