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Blue light services launch North Yorkshire’s first Emergency First Responder scheme

5th April 2016

Fifteen retained firefighters at Pickering, Helmsley and Lythe are now responding to life-threatening emergency calls at the same time as an ambulance, thanks to the official launch of North Yorkshire’s first Emergency First Responder (EFR) scheme.

The pilot scheme is a joint initiative between Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (NYFRS). It follows the success of the first scheme which has been running in Humberside and the East Riding of Yorkshire for the last two years, the South Yorkshire scheme which was launched in October 2015 and most recently the West Yorkshire initiative.

Each EFR has been trained in basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. They are equipped with a kit which includes oxygen and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help patients in a medical emergency such as a heart attack, collapse or breathing difficulties.

An EFR will be dispatched at the same time as an ambulance and will not replace the usual emergency medical response from YAS. However, their location within local communities could mean they are nearer to the scene in those first critical minutes of a medical emergency, delivering life-saving care until an ambulance clinician arrives.

Paul Stevens, Head of Community Resilience at YAS said: “We have a responsibility to ensure we explore all available options to improve clinical outcomes for people in Yorkshire and we are delighted to be working in partnership with WYFRS on this Emergency First Responder scheme.

“We have a very clear ambition to improve the survival rate for those people who suffer from a cardiac arrest in the community and we want to have world-class levels of survival. The expansion of this initiative is another important element of this.

“North Yorkshire is already served by our award-winning Community First Responder teams who do a fantastic job as volunteers in their local areas. The addition of Emergency First Responders has further strengthened our response in these communities and the two models work side-by-side to save more lives.

“We are also working with health partners, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local MPs, Councillors and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to increase the number of public access defibrillators in the area and further improve cardiac arrest survival rates.”

Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their Fire Station allow and the scheme will not have an adverse impact on fire cover. The scheme will be closely monitored throughout the pilot and fully evaluated prior to any decisions being made about the long-term future of the scheme.

Head of Risk Management Owen Hayward from North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said: “We are delighted to be part of this scheme and believe that it will deliver real benefits to people who require medical assistance in these rural areas.

“Since we started the pilot schemes in December 2015, Emergency First Responders have already attended over 80 incidents including one in Pickering where a person had suffered a cardiac arrest. The EFR played a key role in keeping the individual alive and hopefully this scheme will allow more lives to be saved.”

YAS Head of Community Resilience Paul Stevens summed up the initiative by adding: “The demands placed upon emergency services increase every year and our approaches to providing the best responses for positive patient outcomes are continually evolving. By exploring innovative and alternative ways of working with all our partners, together we can save more lives.”

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