Dorset & Wiltshire firefighters called to fewer medical emergencies

Dorset & Wiltshire firefighters called to fewer medical emergencies

Published by Maria Greenwood at 9:58am 28th January 2020. (Updated at 10:01am 28th January 2020)

Firefighters in Dorset and Wiltshire attended just a few dozen medical only emergencies last year, despite concerns elsewhere in the country that crews are increasingly having to step into the role of paramedics.

  • The Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service recorded 39 non fire-related medical incidents in 2018-19, according to the latest Home Office statistics.
  • This was a significant drop from 2010-11, the earliest period for which data is available, when there were 1,137.
Fire Engines

'The national picture' 

Across England, however, the number of calls increased by 77% over the period, reaching 19,900 such cases last year.

The number of call-outs peaked at 45,700 in 2016-17, a year after emergency medical response trials were introduced that saw fire crews respond to medical emergencies alongside paramedics.

The Fire Brigades Union withdrew from the scheme in 2017, but fire services are still responding to far more medical incidents than before it began.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said any increase to firefighters’ workloads should include a “significant” increase in their pay, along with appropriate training. He said:

"Firefighters are there to keep their communities safe from fire and other hazardous emergency incidents.

"While there may be occasions when firefighters are required to attend medical emergencies, they are not doctors, paramedics, nurses, or social carers – and nor should they be.

"Firefighters are overstretched and under-paid, and services are under-resourced."

Fire Engines outside Dorchester Co-Op

At the time the FBU withdrew from the trial, the National Fire Chiefs Council said it was "very disappointed" with the decision.

An NFCC spokeswoman said the Policing and Crime Act 2017 still required emergency services to collaborate, which could account for the increase in incidents.

She added:

“All fire and rescue services have their own risk plans to ensure communities are kept safe, and resources – such as fire appliances and firefighters – are always available to meet their emergencies."