Firefighter spends more than 2,000 hours driving ambulances
An on-call firefighter from Hawkwell has spent more than 2,000 hours driving ambulances during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kevin Cope, an on-call firefighter at Hawkwell Fire Station since 2015, is one of 19 on-call firefighters from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service that trained to drive ambulances during the pandemic.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) joined forces in early 2020 to help protect Essex residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
EEAST trained 19 on-call firefighters from across Essex to drive ambulances. Between them, the firefighters gave 7,770 hours and crewed more 700 ambulances from April 2020 till April 2021.
Kevin, pictured centre with his colleagues, began his driving duties in April 2020 and enjoyed the role so much that he took on the role as a second job, as well as volunteering as a Community First Responder in his spare time.
“If I hadn’t have been a firefighter, I would not have had this exceptional opportunity,” says Kevin. “I’d really like to thank my crew at Hawkwell for giving more of their time so that we had additional availability and I could support the team at EEAST for several months.”
Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer/ Chief Executive at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:
“We were overwhelmed with offers from our on-call firefighters to support the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Kevin and his colleagues’ contributions to their community have been exceptional, and I am so proud of every single one of them, and all our firefighters across the county.
“I’m delighted that Kevin has taken on a role with the Ambulance Service and thank him for the contribution he continues to make to the public. We are grateful for the training the Ambulance Service has given to our firefighters and the skills and experiences, which will help us and our emergency service partners continue to protect everyone who lives, works and travels in Essex.”
In his year of driving with EEAST, Kevin hit the ground running and attended hundreds of incidents including helping patients suffering cardiac arrests and critically unwell with Covid-19 – including in the snow!
“I’ve helped convey patients to specialist hospitals for heart attack treatments, delivered the critically ill to operating theatres for waiting surgeons, and reassured patients at hospital,” says Kevin. “On one day we needed to convey a patient, alongside a specialist crew caring for them, in the early hours in heavy snowfall.”
“It was understandably a pressured, and even desperate, time in those early weeks, but everyone’s good will, humour, care and humanity for our patients and each other steadied the ship.
“But throughout these challenging times, the resolve and resilience of these remarkable people has touched and etched an impression on me which shall be with me for the rest of my days.”
Kevin is continuing to develop in his role with the Ambulance Service as well as providing on-call firefighter cover in Hawkwell. He feels both roles have equipped him with valuable skills and experience and has enjoyed seeing both the Fire Service and Ambulance Service working collaboratively to help their communities.
While his initial training last spring equipped him with manual handling and first aid skills as well as driving ambulances on blue lights, Kevin has since taken on more than 20 modules to develop his career with EEAST.
James Palmer, Paramedic with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and former firefighter with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:
“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Kevin multiple times throughout the last year and he has been a true asset to us across the Covid-19 pandemic
"Over the last year he has settled in well within the South East Essex team and I have always found him a pleasure to work with, he is always happy to help wherever he can within his skill set. Kevin always ensures every patient contact is professional.”
Laura Spears, Assistant General Manager, South Essex Locality with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said:
“Despite the many challenges COVID has brought us, it has also provided us an opportunity as a collective group of emergency service providers. COVID has allowed us to work closer together than ever before and share our knowledge and skills across from one to the other, to encourage holistic and collaborative working. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Kevin multiple times throughout the last year and he has been a true asset to us across the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Page last updated 26 May, 2021