11 July 2016
A trial which has seen North East firefighters deal with life threatening medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests since is to be extended.
During the trial, which started at the beginning of this year, firefighters attended 2,904 patients - more than 1,800 in the Durham and Darlington area.
Ambulance service bosses have now agreed to extend the trial until at least February 2017. Fire crews have been equipped with a medical kit with the aim of helping to improve survival rates when they are first on the scene.
Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton from Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “We are very pleased with the trial so far in Redcar and east Cleveland which has improved the survival chances of patients.
“This extension will see the trial rolled out to three more stations in our area but we hope to eventually have all of our fire crews delivering this vital lifesaving work.”
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark McCarty said: “This trial has provided a great opportunity for us to use our skills and training to further benefit the whole community.
“We know that every second is crucial in a medical emergency and our crews have responded on numerous occasions to assist our colleagues in NEAS. It is a positive step the pilot programme is now being extended for a further six months.”
Ambulance service operations manager Gareth Campbell said: "Demand on the ambulance service has increased by nearly 20% since 2007, meaning we receive a new 999 call every 65 seconds.
"Over the last six months, fire crews have been able to reach the scene of many incidents and deliver lifesaving care in those first critical minutes until an ambulance clinician has arrived, thereby improving the survival rates of our patients. "