Gloucestershire firefighters help with ambulance duties
Firefighters from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) are playing a key role in relieving pressure on paramedics during the coronavirus outbreak.
The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has invested in additional ambulances for the region, two of which will be coming to Gloucestershire.
They will be driven by first-aid trained firefighters from the county to help support the ambulance service when they arrive next week. They will mainly be transferring patients to and from hospital and will also act as first responders for some life-threatening calls while paramedics are on their way.
Some other ambulances will also be driven by fire engine drivers to help relieve the increasing pressure on paramedics as they deal with the crisis. The Service has also reintroduced co-responding across many of its fire stations, that will see staff respond to certain types of medical trauma alongside SWASFT ambulance crews.
Other duties being carried out by GFRS to support the community include:
- Helping to package and deliver food and medication to vulnerable members of the community
- A team of 20 are assisting with the management of temporary mortuary facilities for victims of Covid-19
- Helping to fit and train NHS staff in the use of respiratory Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- A community fire station has been converted into a temporary Covid-19 drive through testing station and firefighters will be assisting with the daily operation
- Fire stations are being used to receive and distribute PPE to care homes and other council departments
Cllr Dave Norman, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for the fire and rescue service, said: “It’s good news we have more ambulances coming to the county and I’m grateful to our firefighters for their support.
“Agencies are working closely together during the coronavirus outbreak to help keep residents safe and the collaboration between GFRS and the ambulance service will ensure our residents get medical care quickly if they need it.
“While we stay at home our firefighters will be supporting the ambulance service and the wider community in a variety of challenging roles, so we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Derek McCullough, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) interoperable capabilities officer, said: “We are delighted about this partnership with fire service colleagues across the South West to support our frontline care of patients.
“We have invested in 15 additional ambulance vehicles, which have now been allocated to this important partnership initiative.
“The partnership will enable us to make more efficient use of our resources, and help us deal with the expected increase in demand over the upcoming weeks. This will mean we are better equipped to reach those patients most in need of our care, and ultimately to save more lives.”