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28 April 2015
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has criticised South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for sending their firefighters to medical emergencies which should be responded to by paramedics.
Only around a third of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s firefighters have completed an Initial Emergency Care Course which enables firefighters to provide initial first aid, whilst the remainder have no medical training whatsoever.
Two incidents cited by the FBU highlight how ambulance crews are arriving very late, or not at all, to emergencies because firefighters are on the scene.
In one case, firefighters arrived at a scene to find an elderly woman collapsed and not breathing. An ambulance arrived 45 minutes later, after initially being stood down because the fire crew was en route.
And in another incident, firefighters were left unable to respond to fire calls for two hours after attending a property where a lady had fallen and hit her head.
Ian Murray, vice-president of the FBU, said: “Firefighters routinely train to deal with fires, flooding, terrorism and rescue emergencies but South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are mobilising fire crews to incidents they are not trained to deal with.
“It is irresponsible and dangerous to put untrained firefighters in the position of attending incidents to assist the ambulance service, with the knowledge that it is highly unlikely one will arrive for some considerable time and as such leaving the fire crews to deal with a medical emergency they are not trained to deal with.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.