Lifesaving Partnership Enhanced with Launch of Officer Trial

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has launched a new lifesaving trial scheme in partnership with South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), which involves some of its officers responding to emergency medical calls.

Three officers have volunteered to respond to life threatening medical emergencies (such as cardiac arrest and strokes) on behalf of SCAS when they are closer than the nearest ambulance resource. An ambulance will always be mobilised to the call in addition to the fire and rescue service response.

The officers are mobilised as single responders directly by SCAS and travel to the incident on blue lights. In cases involving cardiac arrest, survivability falls by 10 percent for every minute that passes without cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, which means that the speed of response to these types of incidents is crucial.

Additional medical training has been delivered to the officers by paramedics and extra equipment provided in addition to the defibrillators already carried in RBFRS officers’ cars. The scheme complements the existing co-responding trials already running in Hungerford and Wokingham, which were set up as part of a project involving RBFRS, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service and SCAS.

Group Manager Neil Carter, who manages the co-responding schemes in Berkshire and is one of the officer responders taking part in the trial, said: “This is the third model of RBFRS staff providing a response to medical emergencies that we are trialling with SCAS and another way in which we are contributing to a broader safety, health and wellbeing agenda.

“We already have crews on the fire engine attending co-responder calls in Wokingham, as well as a first response car in Hungerford crewed by a single firefighter when they aren’t needed to crew the fire engine. Both of these schemes are running very successfully and the trial involving our officers is already proving to be just as effective.

“One of the main benefits of the officer co-responding trial is that it is extremely flexible. The officers can respond from their work location during the day and from their homes overnight when they are on duty, providing a valuable, rapid medical response in their local community.”

Nic Morecroft, Lead Community Response Manager at South Central Ambulance Service, said: “We know from the initial trials of the co-responding scheme that this is already helping us save more lives by saving time in getting medically-trained specialists to the scene of an incident who can provide earlier treatment before the arrival of an ambulance crew. Extending the trial will strengthen the close collaboration between our two organisations further and is great news for the local community.”