Bri­gade joins am­bos in an emer­gency

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Fire crews are re­spond­ing to more med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

The fire ser­vice now rou­tinely co-re­sponds with am­bu­lances to im­me­di­ate, life-threat­en­ing in­ci­dents like heart at­tacks and re­s­pi­ra­tory ar­rests.

In the past they were only re­quired to at­tend if a unit was close or had equip­ment that was needed.

St John and the fire ser­vice have had a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing ( MOU) to sup­port each other since 2005.

It is un­der re­view and in De­cem­ber it was de­cided that fire crews would at­tend all of the most crit­i­cal calls while the process is com­pleted.

‘‘Over the past year the New Zealand Fire Ser­vice and St John have been re­think­ing the way they re­spond to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies to en­sure the best re­sponse for pa­tients,’’ St John head of plan­ning and ser­vice de­vel­op­ment Peter Tran­ter says.

‘‘[The fire ser­vice] is able to pro­vide early CPR or de­fib­ril­la­tion in ad­vance of St John per­son­nel ar­riv­ing and may be an ex­tra re­source at the scene af­ter that.’’

Crews aren’t ex­pected to do any com­plex pa­tient as­sess­ments or trans­port people.

Auck­land City Area fire crews would nor­mally at­tend an aver­age of 214 med­i­cal emer­gency and res- cue calls in the year from July to June. That num­ber is on the rise and crews have al­ready at­tended 206 calls since last June.

St John gets about 314 emer­gency call-outs in Auck­land each day.

‘‘We have over 430 fire sta­tions around the coun­try, many of which will be closer to the emer­gency than an am­bu­lance, so it makes sense for a fire ap­pli­ance to co-re­spond,’’ MOU project leader and Auck­land and North­land Fire Re­gion man­ager Brian Butt says.

Many crews have al­ways op­er­ated this way, Mr Butt says.

‘‘At the end of the day we’re not just a fire ser­vice any­more, we are Since June last year Auck­land City Area fire crews have at­tended:

2304 false alarms. These equate to 59 per cent of call-outs and can of­ten be be­cause alarms on commercial premises have gone off for no rea­son an emer­gency ser­vice and we get sent to all kinds of events. It’s just amaz­ing some of the things our people get in­volved in. If we can save a life we’re happy to help.’’ 791 fires 315 haz­ardous emer­gen­cies 215 spe­cial ser­vices calls. These are in­ci­dents that are not fire re­lated like an­i­mal res­cues and calls for as­sis­tance from po­lice

38 nat­u­ral dis­as­ters

The MOU is be­ing re­viewed to make the fire ser­vice re­sponse to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies more con­sis­tent through­out the coun­try and ex­pand it.

Work­ing to­gether: A change to an agree­ment be­tween St John and the New Zealand Fire Ser­vice means fire crews are as­sist­ing am­bu­lance of­fi­cers with more med­i­cal calls.

Peter Tran­ter

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