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10 March 2016
Firefighters from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will respond to medical emergencies, such as patients suffering from cardiac arrest, as part of a new trial.
The fire service will work with East of England Ambulance Service, which will asses whether a fire engine could get to the scene quicker when receiving callouts.
If this is the case, fire crews will attend the scene equipped with a defibrillator and begin treatment until and ambulance crew can arrive.
The trial will start from the beginning of April, and will initially involve crews from Watford and Stevenage.
Adam Gretton, spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, told the Watford Observer: “We strongly believe other emergency colleagues have the ability to support us in the delivery of services to patients experiencing an immediately life-threatening event.
“This will help improve patient care and save lives. When someone is in cardiac arrest, immediate and effective CPR and the use of a defibrillator can greatly increase the chances of survival.”
David Barlow, spokesman for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, said: “There might be times when an ambulance is eight minutes away, but a fire engine would get there in four minutes.
“It is about trying to help the public quicker.
“We have got these firefighters who may not be responding to anything and they have these skills and they could be helping people rather than being parked up in the station. It is not about trying to massage the figures.”
Tony Smith, from Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Union, said: “I think it is broadly supported by the firefighters. If we think we can help, we always will help.
“It is important for us that it is done properly and we are working with management to make sure that is the case.”