Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


999 Day - Meet Kevin, on-call firefighter and ambulance driver

As part of #999Day, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is highlighting its staff that wear more than one uniform to protect their communities.  

Kevin Cope has been an on-call firefighter at Hawkwell Fire Station since 2015. He’s paid to protect his community as an on-call firefighter and responds to incidents in Hawkwell when he is paged. When the pager sounds, he has 5 minutes to get to the fire station and he never knows what he will be called to. It could be a house fire, a road traffic collision, a water rescue or a chemical incident.  

Kevin is also 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 joined forces in early 2020 to help protect Essex residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Ambulance Service 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.” 

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 

To learn more about the emergency services working to keep Essex safe, follow the hashtags #EssexUnites, #StaySafeEssex and #999Day. 

Could you be an on-call firefighter? If you live or work within 5 minutes of an on-call fire station, you could be paid to protect your community as an on-call firefighter. Find out more a 

Page last updated 9 September, 2021

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