FIREFIGHTERS in Dawlish have become the first to take delivery of a fleet of new vehicles specially designed for their attendance at life-threatening medical emergencies.
Dawlish fire station is one of 20 on-call stations in Devon and Somerset where firefighters also act as volunteer co-responders.
The Dawlish crew attended 561 co-responder medical calls in 2016 to 2017.
Now they have taken ownership of the first of a fleet of Ford Kugas which have been designed to meet the needs of the crew when attending this type of call.
Station commander Dave Williams said: ‘We are a busy fire station particularly when it comes to co-responder calls.
‘This vehicle will allow us to attend medical emergencies quickly and safely with the right kit to start giving urgent medical attention.’
Co-responding is a voluntary activity carried out by the 20 on call stations across Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.
Working with South West Ambulance, crews ensure the quickest possible response to certain medical emergencies.
While the number of fires have decreased, in part due to the service’s community safety work, and also national fire safety legislation, the number of medical calls continue to rise.
The fire service now attends more co-responder calls than to primary fires.
When the ambulance service receives a 999 call, local fire crews are mobilised to provide initial medical treatment and care until an ambulance arrives.
Firefighters have been trained by the ambulance service to deliver basic life support including oxygen therapy and defibrillator using an automatic external defibrillator.
Area manager Neil Blackburn said: ‘We would like to thank the employers and families for contributing to this successful scheme by allowing personnel to respond day or night when they are needed within the area where they live or work.’
Rob Horton, responder manager for South West Ambulance Service, said: ‘We are delighted to be working in partnership with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to provide this co-responder service for patients.‘Early medical intervention undoubtedly saves lives and every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
‘The sooner patients can receive help, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.’