Almost 200 people could owe their lives to the county’s firefighters thanks to a pilot scheme that sees volunteers attending life-threatening emergency calls.
The Emergency First Responder (ERF) scheme was launched in February in Skelmanthorpe, followed by Featherstone and Ilkley. It involves trained volunteers staffing an ambulance responder and heading to the most serious of medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests.
Patients are attended by on-call firefighters trained in basic life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy. Ambulance crews are called at the same time.
An interim report on the scheme has recorded 199 lifesaving calls across the three stations. In March alone volunteers at Skelmanthorpe the first station to go live attended 29 callouts, one for almost every day of the month.
Incidents are categorised as Red, Amber and Green, with Red classed as a time critical life-threatening event needing immediate intervention and/or resuscitation.
Amber covers potentially serious conditions that may require rapid assessment, urgent on scene intervention and/or urgent transport. Green is considered urgent but not immediately life threatening.
EFR volunteers are mobilised to calls within a six-mile radius of the individual’s location. They aim to respond to Red category incidents within eight minutes and to Amber within 19 minutes.
Emergency First Responders are only available for dispatch when staffing levels at their fire station allow. West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service says there is no evidence that fire cover has been adversely affected by the scheme.
A West Yorkshire Fire Service spokesman said: “We have attended 199 life-saving calls across the three stations and have not seen a detrimental impact on fire cover in these areas. The schemes are offering significant value to the local communities they are operating within.”