North east leading the way with trauma support for frontline firefighters

Photo credit: North East Ambulance Service.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) has teamed up with North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) in a scheme believed to be the first of its kind in England.

It has seen paramedic educator, Phil Barlow, who has 15-years frontline experience being seconded to the brigade to provide trauma first aid training to fire crews, who may be first on the scene to an emergency.

Over the past six months, Phil has been working with firefighters from across 17 community fire stations, staff from Service Headquarters in Barmston Mere, and with new recruits.

In total, Phil has delivered 12 training packages since November to over 100 members of staff, and between now and October of this year a further 16 courses are being scheduled that will be presented to 200 additional firefighters and managers across TWFRS.   

It is believed to be the first time a paramedic has been seconded to work alongside firefighters in a bid to ensure crews can respond as effectively as possible. 

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay said, “We are proud of the bond and association that we have with our fellow blue light organisations in the region.  This connection is perfectly represented with the partnership trauma support training programme currently being delivered alongside our colleagues at the North East Ambulance Service.

“The knowledge being passed on to TWFRS staff and crews is invaluable, as it can be used in a variety of different ways.  From frontline crews acting as first responders at the scene of an incident – who can use these vital skills to assess and treat casualties ahead of the paramedics arriving at the scene. 

“We recognised the need for this kind of skills based training programme that could help develop and nurture the trauma and first aid capabilities of our staff.  It’s a credit to the partnership between TWFRS and NEAS to forge this affiliation that can be recognised and applauded on a national platform.”

The original premise of the partnership was to introduce into the heart of TWFRS the expertise of an experienced NEAS clinical practitioner who could assess the education and development needs of the fire and rescue service, and to then design, develop and deliver an innovative evidence based training package to be rolled out as part of the training centre programme. 

The instructor teaches elements of trauma and first aid at work training, which builds upon the existing knowledge of each individual. The course uses our training centre which includes urban search and rescue training facilities; a pylon location that recreates falling from a height, a metro transport incident, and a confined space (collapsed building).   

Karen Gardner, Head of Workforce Development at North East Ambulance Service added, “There has been a great response to the education and development role with very positive feedback from TWFRS staff and crews.  We look forward to continuing this partnership and watch it grow over the coming years.”