A senior Hartlepool councillor is calling for reassurances after the trial of a co-response scheme involving firefighters and paramedics has been halted.
The Fire Brigades Union has decided to cease trials of the Emergency Medical Response (EMR), which saw firefighters respond alongside ambulance staff to medical-related incidents.
Coun Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the North East Joint Health Scrutiny Committee and a Hartlepool councillor, is seeking reassurances services to the public will not suffer.
The Fire Brigades Union ceased the trials – which started in January 2016 – from yesterday.
In a letter to North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) chief executive Yvonne Ormston, Coun Martin-Wells said: “I am concerned about how this will affect the ambulance service, as the committee are aware from a previous presentation to the committee, that NEAS are supportive of the co-responding and would like to see it continue as it has been very successful. I would be very grateful if you could provide the committee with an update on how NEAS plan to manage when this service is ceased, including what other resources will be put in place to ensure ambulance performance does not deteriorate and therefore place patients at risk.”
NEAS chief operating officer Paul Liversidge said: “We are disappointed to see the trial end. The trial was never about improving ambulance service performance. Each time we deployed a fire resource to a patient, we also always dispatched a NEAS paramedic as back-up.
I am concerned about how this will affect the ambulance serviceCoun Ray Martin-Wells
“This was intended to improve outcomes for patients by receiving early interventions like CPR on occasions when the fire service could reach a patient faster than us.”
Since January 2017, there have been about 20 incidents a week where the Cleveland Fire Service has co-responded. In Hartlepool, there has been limited availability for fire crews to respond to patients since January.
Ian Hayton, chief fire officer for Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We are disappointed that the FBU has withdrawn from the national agreement on trials.
“The work undertaken through the trials has been extremely successful, contributing to helping fire and rescue services save or improve lives and we are proud to have taken part in this national pilot.”
The Mail contacted the Fire Brigades Union for comment but did not receive their response.