Thame firefighters in shared medical response pilot scheme

A defibrillator, an oxygen cylinder and a response kit have been installed on the fire engine which serves the town and the surrounding area and fire-fighters who volunteered have received advanced training from South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) in order to attend these emergencies.

Firefighters from Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service would be called to appropriate medical emergencies, such as people with breathing difficulties or those who have experienced a heart attack.

They would be alerted to a call at the same time as ambulance crews and would in some cases be able to provide a swifter initial response as they are based more locally and would be able to give initial care until the ambulance arrived.

Pilot could be rolled out elsewhere if successful

If deemed successful by SCAS, the scheme at Thame, which began on 1 June 2014, could be rolled out to stations in other rural locations.

Partnership working

Nigel Wilson, Area Manager for Operations and Resilience for Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This pilot scheme is an excellent example of effective partnership working that will see skills and resources shared to enhance the service being offered to people locally.

"A swift response is often crucial in a medical emergency and this scheme means that fire-fighters could be mobilised and start to give medical treatment ahead of the arrival of the ambulance crew.

"The extra training and equipment received by fire crews also means they have new skills that can be used at fires; road traffic collisions and other incidents."

Richard Tracey, Community Responder Manager at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council's Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service to provide a co-responder scheme to our patients in the area.

“SCAS works to provide excellent patient service, saving more lives and improving health. The co-responder initiative is designed to make best use of available resources of both organisations and is an efficient and effective way of delivering this aim which is of clear benefit to our patients.”