Could one joint emergency team deal with road crashes in Essex?

Could one combined emergency services team deal with road crashes?

Could one combined emergency services team deal with road crashes? - Credit: Archant

Road crashes in Essex could be attended by one emergency service truck staffed by a combination crew, according to the outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner for the county.

Nick Alston, Essex Police & Crime Commissioner.

Nick Alston, Essex Police & Crime Commissioner. - Credit: Su Anderson

Firefighters’ specialist search teams could also be deployed to find missing people in the future as the brigade and police force works more closely together.

Nick Alston made the comments in the wake of the government’s decision to allow fire authorities to be taken over by commissioners where there is local “appetite” to do so.

Speaking to the Essex Fire Authority today on the topic of blue light collaboration Mr Alston said: “The Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS) has been willing to help with demanding tasks, which are traditionally the responsibility of the police, such as searching for missing people. It is curious to me that the fire service has well trained search teams – which certainly don’t need powers of arrest – but we use police officers routinely to search for high-risk missing persons all around the county.

“Road traffic collisions highlight the curious situation that we may currently send three different emergency services to a collision when a small mixed team in one vehicle might well be able to deal with most situations.

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“Or if a report is received of an elderly person who may have fallen in their house, it might be the police who respond. Why shouldn’t our professional fire officers respond and help, especially if they could be further trained in emergency medicine?

“Is the public content that one service it funds is over-pressed while another has both skills and spare capacity? Both services share an overwhelming desire to help protect the public from harm at all times.

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“But efficiencies should not be the driving point.”

Fire authority members in general welcomed the opportunity for closer collaboration between the two services, but were cautious about the possible handover of control from the authority to the commissioner – described by one councillor Michael Danvers as like “a turkey voting for Christmas”.

Other options could include the commissioner sitting on the fire authority.

Mr Alston said he did not want to see the merger of two “professional cadres”, adding: “If you have a fire in your house you don’t want a detective turning up, or if you have a crime a fireman.”

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