Firefighters attend more than 358 medical emergencies under county's new scheme

A number of South Yorkshire firefighters are now designated Emergency First Responders.
A number of South Yorkshire firefighters are now designated Emergency First Responders.

Firefighters in South Yorkshire attended hundreds of medical emergencies last year under a new scheme.

The county’s first Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme sees firefighters called out to certain life-threatening incidents at the same time as ambulances.

On-call firefighters from Rossington, Stocksbridge and Dearne fire stations were sent to 358 medical emergencies in 2016, including cardiac arrests and incidents stating chest pains and breathing difficulties.

At other incidents, firefighters have provided support and made the patient comfortable until the ambulance service arrived on scene.

First responders do not replace the usual emergency medical response by Yorkshire Ambulance Service but their location within local communities can mean they reach the scene quicker in the early critical minutes, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance arrives.

They also support and complement other volunteer community first responder schemes within South Yorkshire, ensuring the level of medical provision to local communities is supplemented.

But they are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their stations allow.

Tony Carlin, head of emergency response at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Just over a year into this scheme going live, our firefighters are already showing the incredible value they can add to their communities and the role we can play as a fire service in enhancing the work of our emergency service partners and volunteer community first responders.

“Our role as a fire service will always be to protect our communities and reach and save those who are in danger as quickly as possible. A new statutory duty has made it a requirement for us to work more closely with our blue light partners, and this scheme is a perfect example of how we are already doing that.”

Training for firefighters who are part of the scheme includes basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy.

They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.