A potentially life-saving scheme in which West
Sussex firefighters attend certain medical emergencies with South
East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is to be piloted in the

The co-responding scheme follows similar work with the fire
services in Surrey and Kent with discussions also under way in East

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, (WSFRS), has worked in
partnership with SECAmb and will initially respond to immediately
life-threatening Red 1 calls.

To date around 40 firefighters, including 12 new wholetime
recruits, have successfully completed the Immediate Emergency
CareResponder course developed by SECAmb. The trial is expected to
commence later this autumn.

The training enables firefighters, whose equipment includes a
defibrillator, 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 but, if available, a
co-responder may arrive first.

The trial is part of SECAmb’s wider ongoing work of emergency
service collaboration across its region.

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. When
someone is in cardiac arrest, with every minute that passes their
chances of survival diminish significantly. We’ll 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 treatment.”

Lee Neale, Acting Executive Director for Communities &
Public Protection and Chief Fire Officer at WSFRS, said: “A huge
amount of work has been carried out in preparation for this trial
and we are very pleased to have a team of staff who are trained to
the high standard the ambulance service require to be able to
respond to some of their emergency calls. It goes without saying
that, if a life is at risk, we want to do all that we can to help
that person.

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the
ambulance service and will continue to look at new ways of working
to provide the best possible services to the communities where we
live and work.”