Welsh Ambulance Service and Wales’ fire and rescue services work together to save lives

The Welsh Ambulance Service has teamed up with Wales’ three fire and rescue services in a pilot designed to improve the quality of the services provided to Welsh communities.

Members of the public in certain pockets of Wales who require emergency medical assistance may get a response from their local fire and rescue service under the new scheme, which is expected to run until June 2016.

Co-responders – or Fire Medical Response crews – will not replace the normal response of a paramedic in a car or an ambulance, but will form part of an integrated approach to providing immediate, life-saving treatment to patients in our communities.

The exact nature of the pilot will vary in each fire and rescue service area, but the overall aim of working together to save lives will be a common approach in the three regions.

Greg Lloyd, Head of Clinical Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said, “Every second counts in an emergency. If our fire service colleagues can get to a scene before one of our ambulances they can begin to deliver life-saving treatment – that’s only going to improve that patient’s chance of surviving.

“Co-responders play an important role alongside frontline ambulance staff in making sure patients get appropriate help quickly and efficiently, and they’re very much part of the Welsh Ambulance Service family.”

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer Richard Fairhead said, “We would like to reassure residents across Wales that there will be absolutely no reduction in emergency response and service delivery, either from the fire and rescue services across Wales or from the Welsh Ambulance Service during the pilot period. The pilot will involve mobilising responders who are suitably trained individuals who will work to preserve life until the arrival of either an ambulance or rapid response vehicle.”

South Wales Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andrew Thomas said, “This pilot is an opportunity for us to work more closely together to the benefit of the public in Wales, improving collaborative working between the emergency services to ensure a better operational response, increase operational services and improve resilience – adding real value for money whilst working more effectively and efficiently.”

Rob Quin, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, which has been operating a co-responding scheme since 1998, added, “We are delighted to be able to offer further support to the Welsh Ambulance Service through the inclusion of these additional locations as co-responder stations. Our role in supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service to shorten the time it takes to reach people in need of help can make the difference between life and death for many.”

The pilot was launched on 21 December by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service with both Mid and West Wales and North Wales Rescue Services following suit in their own service areas in January.

Milford Haven was the first to go live in the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service region, with Llanelli, Port Talbot and Builth Wells to follow suit.

The pilot is also live in North Wales – currently firefighters based at Holyhead, Holywell, Colwyn Bay and Pwllheli are actively taking part. Staff from Llangollen and Dolgellau will join the pilot in the upcoming weeks on completion of the necessary measures to satisfy Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) requirements.