The Service has been working closely in collaboration with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) since March 2014, providing co-responding assistance to medical emergencies. SCAS, as with many ambulance trusts, are experiencing difficulties in meeting their attendance times to red one and two emergencies. This is mainly due to the significant call demand increase to the NHS Trust services nationally.
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service run a number of response models across the county dependent upon the call demand and type of support SCAS require. The response types are:
- Positive hours crewed car – Off duty firefighters work on a secondary employment contract at either High Wycombe or Chesham Fire Station, crewing a SCAS supplied medical intervention vehicle. They work a designated shift which has been agreed with SCAS following an analysis of the specific call demand profile for the two areas. As these vehicles are specifically dedicated to SCAS use, they can be mobilised to any area for the duration of the shift. This includes standing by at holding points when gaps appear in cover. SCAS are “billed” a daily rate by our service to ensure costs are recovered.
- On-call crewed car – On-call (Retained) firefighters, when crewing of the appliance allows, we are able to crew the SCAS supplied medical intervention vehicles based at Marlow, Chesham and Buckingham Fire Station. On-call firefighters take the vehicle to their home address, book available for medical emergencies on the SCAS supplied GPS pagers, and respond from home. SCAS are “billed” on a “pay as you use” arrangement, and the firefighter is paid only if mobilised.
- Fire appliance – The day crewed fire appliance at Buckingham Fire Station is utilised for co-responding duties when not at fire incidents or taking part in other Fire Service related activities. This (again) is operated under a cost recovery arrangement.
“All the co-responders are volunteers. They have been DBS checked and received enhanced Basic Life Support training by SCAS. They are equipped to deal with a range of medical situations that they may be presented with. Ongoing training and reassessments reduce skills decay and the team are managed by a central co-ordinator.”
“Since the inception of co-responding in March 2014, our co-responders have been mobilised to over 3000 medical emergencies, making a substantial contribution to the local Ambulance Service and continue, in collaboration with both SCAS and the other Thames Valley fire and rescue services, to improve the public safety of our communities.”
-Stuart Buckland, Station Commander