Facing the Future Together - Health and Fire Conference
Closer joint working between the fire and rescue service and ambulance and health services kicked off in Essex and there will be further developments in the future.
A conference held in Colchester Stadium on Monday, September 28, looked at ways the health and fire services can work better together to help keep communities safer and healthier. Facing the Future Together saw a packed audience of fire, police, ambulance and healthcare professionals from across the region came together at Colchester Stadium to explore best practice and learn about the ways in which they can help one another provide a better service to the public.
Ambulances are already based at Frinton, Old Harlow, Chelmsford, Great Baddow and Braintree fire stations as part of a pilot project allowing ambulance crews to share facilities with the fire service and to improve response times to patients.
Speakers included representatives from Public Health England, Essex NHS and fire services from across the country which have introduced innovative health and wellbeing schemes
Group Manager Ted O’Brien from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spoke about their Community Risk Intervention Teams scheme which sees firefighters responding to low priority ambulance calls, such as falls in the home, which is helping prevent people being taken to hospital unnecessarily.
Sally Waldron from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service spoke about how they provide a Telecare monitoring and responding service. Retained firefighters in the county agree to be the primary contact for vulnerable people without family so when they call for help firefighters are on hand to go to their home and help them.
Sean Taylor from Lincolnshire FRS and Steve Pratten from East Midland Ambulance Service spoke about their award winning collaboration which has seen the introduction of three 'fire ambulances' in Lincolnshire fire stations. Specially trained firefighters attend the most serious medical emergencies in these ambulances and look after patients until a paramedic arrives. They can then transport the patient to hospital in their fully equipped ambulance keeping paramedics free to deal with life threatening emergencies.
Health experts spoke about the increasing pressures they face and the shift in focus they undergoing from treating illness to preventing it through well-being schemes.
Acting Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “This was all about getting Essex County Fire and Rescue Service together with partners in other emergency services and health providers about future opportunities to work together to save lives, prevent injury and improve health outcomes.
“There is a large crossover in the work we do. In terms of response we respond to fires and road traffic collisions but I would like to see our firefighters responding to health emergencies.
“As we saw today that is already happening in Lincolnshire and Manchester Fire Services and it’s happening in Kent and I envision it happening in Essex. I think it’s more rewarding for our firefighters who can use their skills to further help communities.
“This conference is a positive step forward. We are looking to future which will see us working ever closer with partners in health and emergency services and bringing everyone together today is a fantastic first step on the journey we will all take together.”