Fire brigade provided medical back up to stretched ambulance service more than 2,000 times

Cleveland Fire Brigade and North East Ambulance Service officials involved in the First Responder scheme
Cleveland Fire Brigade and North East Ambulance Service officials involved in the First Responder scheme

Firefighters gave lifesaving care at the scene of more than 2,000 medical emergencies in a trial to provide support for the stretched ambulance service.

An 18-month trial between Cleveland Fire Brigade and the North East Ambulance Service is coming to an end.

Every second counts and our work has undoubtedly contributed to improving the survival rates of many patients

Ian Hayton, Cleveland Fire Brigade

During the North East Emergency Medical Responder scheme, firefighters have provided lifesaving care on the scene of more than 2,000 incidents either alongside paramedics or before an ambulance could get there.

Ian Hayton, chief fire officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “During the on-going trial, which has been rolled out across Cleveland in the past 18 months, our fire crews have been able to reach the scene of more than 2,000 incidents and deliver lifesaving care in those first critical minutes alongside professional paramedics or until an ambulance arrives.

“As we all know, in an emergency every second counts and our work has undoubtedly contributed to improving the survival rates of many patients suffering from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests to other medical emergencies.

“We look forward to continuing this important work with our colleagues in the ambulance service.”

Hartlepool councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the North East Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, said the ambulance service was relying quite heavily on such support, but he said it meant casualties were getting help quicker.

Coun Martin-Wells, who also sits on Cleveland Fire Authority, appealed to the ambulance service for funding for the brigade to invest in more specialised vehicles.

Mark Cotton, assistant director of communications for the North East Ambulance Service, said it would like to see the scheme continue.

He said: “I think the trials that we have been doing with the four fire services in our area we feel have been very successful. Cost is an issue, that’s something that has already been raised with us by the fire brigade and it’s something we will be raising with our commissioners.”