Chief fire officer in Essex ‘envisions’ more health work for firefighters

Speakers at the Facing the Future Together conference. (L-R) Sean Taylor, Lincolnshire FRS; Steve P

Speakers at the Facing the Future Together conference. (L-R) Sean Taylor, Lincolnshire FRS; Steve Pratten, EMAS; Jane Hanvey, Mid Essex CCG; Catherine Goodall, Public Health England, ACFO Paul Hill & Acting CFO Adam Eckley ECFRS, Photo: ECFRS - Credit: Archant

Essex’s most senior fire officer has said closer working between firefighters and the health service will happen in the county.

Acting chief fire officer Adam Eckley had already hinted at an enlarged role for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS), moving away from the traditional job of tackling blazes and rescuing people from car crashes.

But following a conference held at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester on Monday Mr Eckley said there would be further developments in such initiatives.

Speakers at the Facing the Future Together conference included Ted O’Brien from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who outlined his brigade’s Community Risk Intervention Teams scheme which sees firefighters responding to low priority ambulance calls, such as falls in the home, and Sally Waldron from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service whose Telecare monitoring initiative sees retained firemen respond to calls from vulnerable people.

Another project outlined at the event was the partnership between Lincolnshire Fire Brigade and the East Midland Ambulance Service which has seen three “fire ambulances” introduced in the county where firefighters attend serious medical emergencies and can transport patients to hospital.

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Mr Eckley said: “This is already happening in Lincolnshire and Manchester fire services and it’s happening in Kent and I envision it happening in Essex.

“This was all about getting ECFRS 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.

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“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.

“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.”

In Essex ambulances are already based at five fire stations including Frinton and Braintree as part of a pilot project allowing ambulance crews to share facilities and improve response times.

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