Dorset firefighters drive ambulances to help relieve pressure on paramedics

Dorset firefighters drive ambulances to help relieve pressure on paramedics

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:34am 14th May 2020.

Firefighters from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service are playing a key role in relieving pressure on paramedics during lockdown.

There are 16 volunteers from DWFRS who've recently completed training to help the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Area Manager Andy Cole is the officer leading the work, he told Wessex FM:  

"We received a request from the ambulance service trust at the start of the pandemic, to provide them assistance with ambulance drivers to ensure that every patient gets the care they need.

"Through our work as an emergency service, we were quite familiar with what the ambulance services do, but it is quite different to the day to day work we normally do. 

"It's not something any of the firefighters ever expected they would end up doing, but they are more than happy to be able to provide that support to make sure the community is getting the service they need."

FF Anthony Dommett from Bridport fire station is starting his first shift with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
Anthony Dommett from Bridport Fire Station starting his first shift with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

The ambulances are being driven by firefighters who are trained to drive emergency response vehicles and who can do first aid. 

Andy says:

"The firefighters had to learn how to drive the emergency response vehicles, as they are bit different to fire engines, so we had to make sure the firefighters were safe driving those, but also, familiarisation with the kit, to provide support for the ambulance staff."

They are also taking patients to and from hospital, with a doctor, who will act as first responder for life-threatening calls with paramedics.

"When the ambulance service came and asked us for our help, there was no hesitation really, once we'd sorted out all the logistics, we were more than happy to provide that assistance to them."

Fire Engines

The fire and rescue service are also helping the community: 

  • Helping to package and deliver food and medication to vulnerable members of the community
  • Helping to construct, fit and train NHS staff in the use of respiratory Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Face-fit testing of PPE for ambulance staff

DWFRS are also looking at how they can work with local authorities to assist at temporary mortuary sites for victims of COVID-19.