The trial of a potentially life-saving scheme in
which Surrey firefighters attend certain medical emergencies with
South East Coast Ambulance Service will be expanded from next week
(Monday 23 May).

Following early success of the trial, which began at the end of
September last year, trained firefighters will now not only attend
cardiac arrest calls but also other serious calls such as someone
fitting or falling unconscious.

All firefighters involved in the trial have volunteered to
undertake Immediate Emergency Care Responder training developed by
SECAmb. The training enables firefighters to provide treatment to
patients in the moments before ambulance crews arrive much in the
same way as SECAmb’s Community First Responders (CFRs). Ambulance
clinicians are always assigned to attend a call at the same time as
a fire co-responder or CFR.

The trial, which is part of SECAmb’s wider ongoing work of
emergency service collaboration across its region, is similar to a
number of trials taking place elsewhere in the country with SECAmb
also working with its three other fire services in its region to
improve patient care. The trial officially runs until the end of
June and it is hoped that following analysis it will be made

To date, more than 190 firefighters have signed up and in total
co-responded to more than 370 incidents.

SECAmb Clinical Quality Manager and co-responding lead Matt
England said: “This collaboration is about ensuring our most
seriously ill patients are seen as quickly as possible. We’ll also
always assign an ambulance response to the call at the same time
but if firefighters reach the scene of an emergency before
ambulance crews, they will be able to begin vital life-saving

“We’re very pleased with the early feedback from the trial and
that we’ve been able to expand the trial to include other
potentially serious emergencies. When someone is in cardiac arrest,
with every minute that passes their chances of survival diminish
significantly. Likewise with other serious but not immediately
life-threatening calls, a quick response and treatment is vital to
try and prevent a situation from deteriorating.”

Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Associate for
Community Safety Services, said: “This initiative is progressing
well and I’m pleased we’re able to expand it so that firefighters
can respond to a wider range of incidents. Working closely with the
ambulance service in this way means we can better serve our
communities by giving the fastest possible response to people who
are seriously ill.

“Fire and rescue emergencies of course come first for
firefighters but when there are trained crews and vehicles
available they will do all they can as part of this pilot scheme to
improve a patient’s chances of survival while an ambulance is on
its way.”