Firearms police are ‘saving lives’ as part of an innovative scheme to get urgent medical help to patients in cardiac arrest.
The new Emergency Co-Responder scheme launched last month and sees firearms officers who are on patrol despatched to help patients in cardiac or respiratory arrest at the same time as paramedics.
And the joint initiative between Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and West Yorkshire Police has already been activated 40 times since its introduction on September 5 – with five patients successfully resuscitated and transported to hospital.
Supt Mark McManus, of West Yorkshire Police’s Operations Support section, said: “There is big misconception that armed officers only do something when a call comes in around weapons, and that simply isn’t the case.
“These are exceptionally well-trained individuals who, as well as being specially trained firearms experts, first and foremost are police officers whose primary instinct and duty will always be to help people.”
Firearms officers have regular and intensive ‘tactical medical training’ in order to offer emergency care in the varied and potentially unique situations they may find themselves attending.
Supt McManus added: “This isn’t us taking on ambulance calls; this is about using the exceptional training our teams have to make a real difference when they are not attending other emergency police calls.
"The reality is this may only be a couple of calls a week, but if in doing so they can save lives, it’s undoubtedly a positive thing.”
The force says armed officers are routinely deployed on proactive patrol across West Yorkshire which means they may be closer to someone requiring the most urgent medical care than the nearest available paramedic.
They also already trained to p rovide life-saving emergency care and carry defibrillators as part of their standard kit.
Paul Stevens, head of community resilience for YAS, said: “Early CPR and defibrillation are undoubtedly the most important steps in the chain of survival and are time critical.
"Firearms officers, who routinely patrol West Yorkshire, already have the skills and equipment, so the collaboration made perfect sense.
“The demand placed upon blue light emergency services increases every year and our approaches to providing the best response and best patient outcomes available are continually evolving.
“By exploring innovative and alternative ways of working with all partners, together we can ensure our service remains responsive and safe and this will lead to even more lives being saved.”