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Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in new life-saving initiatives

Co-responding Project

A life-saving partnership that will see firefighters from seven Norfolk stations deployed to cardiac arrest incidents, alongside ambulance colleagues, started on Monday (18 July).

The new initiative being run by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue to support the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is the largest in the East of England.

At incidents where a patient is not breathing and their heart has stopped beating, the fire service, will be deployed as community first responders at the same time as EEAST. Firefighters are already trained in basic life support and are equipped with defibrillators.

Paul Seaman, Project Lead for Norfolk said: “This is an exciting new area of work for the Service and much time and planning has gone into providing a sound platform to start the Co-Responding Pilot. This project has the real potential to save lives in the county by using existing staff and their skills to provide lifesaving interventions. The service has worked closely with the EEAST for a number of years and this project will only serve to strengthen the bonds already achieved. We will measure the success of the pilot both locally and regionally so that a best practice model can be embedded for the future.”

Norfolk has agreed to adopt this co-responding initiative at stations in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, King’s Lynn, Norwich, North Walsham, Sheringham and Thetford.

This collaborative work builds on the existing support that the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service provides to the EEAST and police with the initiative Concern for Safety pilot. This covers calls to emergency services where there is a concern for the safety and welfare of a patient who is inside a property, where the ambulance service are unable to gain access without assistance. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s equipment and training enables firefighters to assist with these incidents too.

EEAST’s Quality Development Team Officer said: "Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response (CFR), public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add significantly to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support. We know that the quicker someone starts cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.

“The ambulance service will continue to send clinicians to such patients as a top priority, but the best thing for the patient is to get someone trained in basic life support to their side as quickly as possible.”

Norfolk County Council’s Chairman of Communities Margaret Dewsbury said: “This is an excellent example of effective partnership working. Building on the close relationship we already have with other emergency services helps to provide an improved way of working for the communities we serve.”


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