Emergency First Responding – a new challenge

Author: Dave Walton

This week will see the launch of the West Yorkshire FRS and Yorkshire Ambulance Service partnership scheme to deliver Emergency First Responding (EFR) in some of our more rural areas. Our first EFR station will be at Skelmanthorpe.

We are starting this pilot because we believe that a large part of the community will agree that it makes sense for the emergency services to move closer together in the delivery of life saving emergency care. We also believe that many of our staff consider it to be something that we should be looking at as this service changes to reflect where we find ourselves in 2016. As I’ve blogged about many times before the environment in which we operate is changing, and the expectations placed upon us are changing too. Shaping our own future is an exciting challenge, and infinitely more preferable to having it changed for us. We will learn from the pilot.

More than anything though I think that this chart says more than words can in terms of why we should be taking part in this pilot.

 

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It can happen to any one of us, to our family, to our friends and to anyone in the communities which we serve. Nothing will ever replace the need for professional medical care with all of the skills, drugs and equipment that comes with it when such a medical emergency strikes. What WE can do though is to help to ensure that someone with the right skills, training and equipment gets there quickly to provide that immediate care that is proven to save lives.

The pilot isn’t all about cardiac arrest of course, but it is about those most critical medical emergencies that can happen to any one of us.

I’m aware that not everyone agrees that the Fire & Rescue Service should be doing this kind of work. Personally, I disagree – but I am sure that we will all learn more as we undertake the pilot scheme which we will expand to Ilkley and Featherstone in the next few weeks.

The opportunity for us to enhance the community value of our on call stations, and our staff who deliver the service is something that we need to look at closely as the number of fires and other emergencies continues to decrease.

Our staff have embraced this opportunity. Whilst the chance to prove our worth will, unfortunately, be predicated by someone else’s misfortune, I do hope that they will given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and to save lives. I also know that due to the nature of the calls that we are going to respond to we are not going to win every time. That’s when we will need to support our volunteer colleagues.

I’m immensely grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this pilot happen, and I’m very proud of everyone who has stepped forward to extend the scope of the service that they provide to their local community from that of being an on call firefighter, to the joint role of Emergency First Responder.

Working together with Emergency Service colleagues seems to be the story that is written for the next evolution of our service. It is important for us to explore the challenges, learn the lessons and decide where we can genuinely make our communities safer by working together.

As I conclude this piece the media are beginning to report the tragic fire that occurred in Alder Street, Huddersfield on Saturday 20 February 2016 where two young children lost their lives. I know that our responding crews and officers, and our staff in Fire Control have found this incident a difficult one to deal with. It’s the tragic side of what we have to do, and we will provide support where it is needed. It’s not appropriate for me to comment any further here as the investigation is now underway. It is appropriate though to recognise that whilst any loss of life in such circumstances is tragic, it is somehow all the more tragic when the lives lost are those of such young children. May they rest in peace.

 

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