A pilot scheme between the fire service, ambulance and police has saved lives as well as thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
The project has seen Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service team up with South Central Ambulance Service to help them gain entry to patients who need assistance quickly. This was previously a situation which the police would have assisted with.
During the one-year trial firefighters attended 1,347 calls saving the ambulance service an average of 20 minutes on each occasion. This equates to 56 working days.
This means that ambulance crews are able to access their patients quickly and get back on the road again to take a casualty to hospital or attend another incident.
Assistant Chief Officer Stew Adamson, who is in charge of blue light collaboration, said:
“This is a fantastic example of how blue light services can work together to protect the people of Hampshire and provide the public with the best possible value for money.
“We are often able to attend these incidents quicker than police which means the ambulance can get to the people who need help quicker and the police have more time to fight crime.
“We are also better equipped to gain entry with ladders and various bits of kits. On some occasions we have been able to gain access through windows which again leads to less delays - and less stress for the public.”
This is just one of a series of pioneering examples of the collaborative work by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and its partner agencies which have been recognised by the past two home secretaries.
Before becoming Prime Minster Theresa May singled out HFRS and Hampshire Constabulary for a special mention during a speech on the Police and Crime Act.
She had an exchange with Winchester MP Steve Brine on the fire service’s achievements in this area which led to the blue light services being referred to as “the apple of her eye”.
HFRS was the first to invite the police to move into its headquarters which they did in November 2015.
They have also been opening their stations to police officers who now have a presence in several of the organisation’s facilities helping the two emergency services establish closer working relationships and providing the public with exceptional value for money.
It is not just about buildings, the close links between the two services is represented in ways such as having a police officer on the fire service-run Arson Task Force, cross-service training to upskill firefighters and police officers and even sharing a corporate photographer.
There are also numerous personal links for example Watch Manager Chas McGill has frequently gone ‘on the beat’ with PC Mike Batten which he says has given him a different perspective.
The fire service and police also take part in regular emergency training scenarios to ensure they each thoroughly understand each others roles and have close relationships which could prove vital in a disaster situation.
The importance of the relationship between the fire service and the police is reflected by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority who were among the first to invite the Police and Crime Commissioner to attend meetings.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service also teams up with Hampshire County Council and the police in regards to administration via H3.
The county’s fire service have always led the way on collaboration and run a co-responding service in partnership with the South Central Ambulance Service for more than 10 years – many other counties are now rolling this out.
HFRS respond to more than 10,000 of these calls a year – more than any other fire service.
In addition to this all engines are now equipped with Immediate Emergency Care packs and firefighters have received additional training.
This enables firefighters, often the first on the scene, to deliver potentially life-saving care in the vital minutes following an incident and help stabilise a casualty before the ambulance crews arrive and are able to take over.
In January the Fire as a Health Asset team has also rolled out a new scheme to provide medical bags, containing defibrillators, to all fire officers for use on and off duty.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were recently shortlisted for a prestigious gong for collaborative work at the Excellence in Fire and Emergency awards.
ACO Adamson added:
"Blue light collaboration is all about providing the best service possible for the public and we are committed to finding new and innovation ways of working together."