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Blue light services launch South Yorkshire’s first Emergency First Responder scheme

Around 30 reserve firefighters at Stocksbridge, Rossington and Dearne will soon be responding to life-threatening emergency calls at the same time as an ambulance, thanks to the launch of South Yorkshire’s first Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme.

The scheme is a joint initiative between Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) and follows on from the success of the first scheme which has been running in Humberside and the East Riding of Yorkshire for the last two years.

The scheme was originally trialled by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service at Pocklington Fire Station during 2013 and extended to include a further 11 stations in the area in 2014.

Each EFR has been trained in basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.

An EFR will be despatched at the same time as an ambulance and will not replace the usual emergency medical response from YAS. However, their location within local communities could mean they are nearer to the scene in those first critical minutes of a medical emergency, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance clinician arrives.

Paul Stevens, Head of Community Resilience at YAS, said: “We have a responsibility to ensure we explore every available option to improve clinical outcomes for people in South Yorkshire and we are delighted to be working in partnership with SYFR on the county’s Emergency First Responder scheme.

“We have a very clear ambition to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a cardiac arrest in the community. We want to have world class levels of survival from cardiac arrest and the expansion of this initiative is another important element in saving more lives.

“South Yorkshire is already served by our award-winning Community First Responder teams who do a fantastic job as volunteers in their local areas. The addition of Emergency First Responders has further strengthened our response in these communities and the two models work side-by-side to save more lives.

“We are also working with health partners, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local MPs, Councillors and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to increase the number of public access defibrillators in the area and further improve cardiac arrest survival rates.”

Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow and the scheme will not impact fire cover.

Head of Emergency Response at SYFR Phil Shillito said: “Our role as a fire service will always be to protect our communities and reach and save those who are in danger as quickly as possible. Our firefighters already do a great job of performing a wide range of duties beyond traditional firefighting - from attending flooding incidents to rescuing people from road traffic collisions. So I think it’s only natural for us to look for other ways to extend our skills and support the work of other local bodies, like the ambulance service.

“With this in mind, this partnership can only enhance the service we provide and will improve outcomes for people in need across South Yorkshire.”

YAS Head of Community Resilience Paul Stevens summed up the initiative by adding: “The demand placed upon blue light emergency services increases every year and our approaches to providing the best response and best patient outcomes available are continually evolving. By exploring innovative and alternative ways of working with all partners, together we can ensure our service remains responsive and safe and this will lead to more lives being saved.”

The initial South Yorkshire EFR roll-out will be formally launched at Stocksbridge Fire Station on Monday 19 October 2015 at 4pm.
Photographers and journalists are welcome to attend, please contact the YAS Press Office to confirm on 0845 120 0048.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department