NEAS & firefighters join forces for life saving pilot in Cleveland

Venture provides extra cover - existing ambulance provision remains in place

A pilot scheme to improve response to medical emergencies has been launched by the North East Ambulance Service and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

Both organisations have been working together to set up the collaborative co-responding trial in the Dales area of County Durham, which started on 1 July and will run until March 2015.

Firefighters from Middleton-in-Teesdale have received special training from NEAS to respond to a limited range of medical emergencies. This includes helping people who have chest pains, breathing problems and cardiac arrests.

These specially trained firefighters will help the community by not only ensuring cover for fires, road traffic accidents, flooding and other emergencies but by also providing rapid medical treatment to people living in western rural areas of County Durham. 

Gareth Campbell, operations manager for North East Ambulance Service, said: "NEAS welcomes the assistance offered from our colleagues within County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service. It is anticipated that the trial will complement the extensive efforts of NEAS to provide prompt and first rate patient care in the event of a medical emergency."

Keith Wanley, area manager for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: "All firefighters have extensive training in providing emergency care. This is just an extension to an existing role but one that will save even more lives. Following a heart attack, every minute counts. Early stabilisation and defibrillation can mean the difference between life and death. We are pleased to be providing this service to the public and valuable assistance to our colleagues in the North East Ambulance Service."

The trial will also be extended to Stanhope Station within the coming months; retained firefighters are currently undergoing training with NEAS.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service will respond using four wheel drive vehicles and will be mobilised at the same time as an ambulance from NEAS. The fire service is providing a supporting role to NEAS and will only be called on when its firefighters are able to attend an incident quicker than NEAS due to logistics.

The trial will not involve County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service providing patient transport; the arrangements in place are purely to ensure that early intervention is made when there is a medical emergency.

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