A pilot partnership between firefighters and paramedics should help patients without harming the responses to 999 calls.
Staff from East Midlands Ambulance Service and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue presented their plan at a public meeting in Stamford on Monday.
Under the 12-month pilot, retained fire co-responders based at Stamford station would respond to medical emergencies in an ambulance at the same time as an Emas paramedic in a fast-response vehicle.
If the patient needs to go to hospital the fire co-reponders will then be able to take them in the ambulance. This would reduce the waiting time for patients if an Emas ambulance be some way away.
There were fewer than 10 people at Monday’s meeting to hear the proposals. But Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’s divisional commander for the south, Nick Davis, fielded a number of questions.
He said Stamford’s retained firefighters would not respond to any more medical emergencies as a result of the scheme.
“We are not increasing the amount of calls the service attends,” he said.
Mr Davis said the Stamford crews dealt with an average of 300 medical calls per year. He pointed out that there were very few house fires in the Stamford area and cover was usually available from neighbouring towns.
Fire co-responders would only be called to emergencies within an eight-mile radius of the station.
As a result, the pilot scheme was unlikely to have a negative impact on fire cover.
He said: “We know there are fewer serious incidents in rural areas. But we always send the next nearest fire engine. And we always take the first incident first.
“The biggest threat to this community is medical emergencies. It’s not houses burning down; it’s not crashes.
“Traditionally fire and rescue have stood to one side for medical emergencies. But we don’t have those traditional barriers any more.”
Emas community response manager said firefighters already had the necessary clinical training to respond to emergencies. But they would get extra training so they could drive the ambulance and operate equipment.
The pilot scheme, which is also running in Long Sutton and Woodhall Spa, will cost £419,000. Funding will come from the Government.
For more details on the scheme or to find out about becoming a retained firefighter call 01522 582222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.