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08 January 2016
Fire services in the North East will work with the local ambulance service to respond to medical emergencies, in a trial similar to other initiatives launched across the UK.
Firefighters will be equipped with a medical kit and asked to attend incidents such as people suffering from cardiac arrests.
The ambulance service said that calls have increased by 20% since 2007, whilst calls for fire crews were decreasing.
During the trial, Emergency Medical Response Units, in the form of fire appliances, will deliver emergency medical services when requested by North East Ambulance Service.
Emergency Medical Responders have been trained to enhance their existing medical care knowledge, including basic life support by managing a patient’s airway, giving oxygen therapy, including assisted ventilation, delivering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation using a semi-automatic AED and controlling blood loss.
The EMR’s 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.
Cleveland Fire Brigade's chief fire officer, Ian Hayton, said: "It allows them to reach casualties and maintain life, or actually reduce some suffering, until the professional paramedics arrive.
"We are there to compliment and support - it will always be a joint response."
NEAS Director, Caroline Thurlbeck said: “NEAS receives a new 999 call every 65 seconds, and in an emergency, seconds count.
“During this innovative trial, an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) will be dispatched at the same time as an ambulance.
“Our ambition for this trial is to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a life-threatening illness or injury in the community.