Fire crews in Stamford set for new ambulance role

Stamford Fire Station ENGEMN00120130719132008
Stamford Fire Station ENGEMN00120130719132008
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Fire crews in Stamford will be part of a pilot scheme to take patients to hospital from July in their own ambulance.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and East Midlands Ambulance Service secured £491,000 of Government funding for the trial scheme in October but only unveiled this week that the areas chosen for the 12-month trial are Stamford, Long Sutton and Woodhall Spa.

Fire crews at these stations already attend medical emergencies as part of the ambulance service and Lives co-responders scheme, and have indicated that they would be willing to take part in the pilot scheme.

The project, which is called the Joint Ambulance Conveyance Programme, will see the on-call retained firefighters mobilised in an ambulance while a paramedic attends in a fast-response car.

If the patient needs to go to hospital, fire crews will drive the ambulance while the paramedic travels with the patient providing any necessary medical treatment en route.

The full proposals will be unveiled at a public meeting on Monday at 7pm at Stamford Fire Station in New Cross Road.

A joint report by the fire service and East Midlands Ambulance Service says the project will give patients more timely treatment, “supporting better recovery and improving chances of survival.”

But the Fire Brigades Union says it is considering taking legal action over the proposals because it has concerns over the legality of the fire ambulance consultation process and the effect the proposals would have on its fire cover.

It is asking for a condition stipulating that the mobilisation of fire engines would always take priority over ambulances.

Union secretary for Lincolnshire, Karl McKee, said: “These proposals play Russian roulette with fire safety and could lead to damage to property, loss 
of businesses and even 
loss of life.

“Local firefighters are happy to work with any other agency when appropriate, but we are not here to prop up ambulance cover at the expense of fire safety.

“East Midlands Ambulance Service now deny there are massive delays when ambulances arrive at hospitals that would keep firefighters away from fighting fires for hours at a time, but how can we believe them when not long ago they admitted the problem and were discussing how to overcome it?

“Common sense must prevail as the communities of Lincolnshire deserve better.”

People unable to attend Monday’s meeting can give their views by visiting, e-mailing for a form or calling 01522 582274.