South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is pleased to begin a new partnership with fire services in the region to boost its Covid-19 emergency response this winter.
The mutual aid project, which first ran from April to August, will see fire personnel from Cornwall, Devon & Somerset, Avon and Gloucestershire fire and rescue services supporting the Trust from Sunday 1 November for four months.
Under the agreement, firefighters will support ambulance crews by driving vehicles and work alongside clinicians to provide care and assistance to patients. Of course, this really happens in terms of first response in rural areas.
The initiative is part of a wider plan intended to safeguard the Trust’s delivery of safe and effective patient care during anticipated surges in demand.
Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “We are delighted to have secured a second agreement with our fire service partners to work together during what we expect will be a challenging winter.
“We collaborate closely with the fire services every day when we co-respond to road traffic collisions, property fires and various other types of emergencies.
“This strategic partnership will significantly benefit our response to Covid-19 and our overall care to patients throughout the South West.”
SWASFT approached the fire services because it deemed their aid would be more sustainable than support from other ambulance trusts also responding to Covid-19.
Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our firefighters supported South Western Ambulance Service with ambulance driving earlier this year. This was a fantastic example of blue light collaboration and helping the public at a time of need. We are very much here to help each other, our teams and partner organisations when they need it the most. We’re now making provisions to work together again during the challenging winter months.”
SWASFT was the only ambulance trust in England to approve and train fire personnel to drive on blue lights for the first phase of the partnership.
It invested in a fleet of 15 additional ambulances, which were used by fire service personnel as they responded to more than 6,000 emergency incidents.
Several firefighters have since secured roles with SWASFT as Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs).
Fire and rescue personnel will again wear their own uniform to represent their organisation during the second phase of the partnership.
SWASFT will provide clinical PPE (personal protective equipment) for the prevention and control of Covid-19.