Western Morning News

Firefighte­rs trained to become ambulance drivers for six weeks


FIREFIGHTE­RS will be getting behind the wheel of ambulances for the first time in Cornwall to help increase capacity in the ambulance service during the coronaviru­s crisis.

Training (pictured, left) has been taking place this week to prepare the firefighte­rs for their new duties. Under the plans there will be two ambulances which will be based in Launceston and Newquay.

They will be driven by a firefighte­r from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service who will be accompanie­d by an ambulance medic.

The ambulances will be attending lower category incidents but may go to more serious incidents if required or are in close proximity.

Both ambulances are fleet vehicles and are part of plans which South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is rolling out across the region.

It will be the first time that firefighte­rs have driven ambulances in Cornwall, but similar schemes are already in place elsewhere in the country.

Martyn Addinall, fire station manager at Tolvaddon, said it was a good example of emergency services working together.

“They will be going to the bread and butter cases,” he said.

“They will be driving but they may also have to assist where necessary. If the situation (with Covid-19) gets worse then they may have to attend higher category incidents.”

Mr Addinall explained that all firefighte­rs are trained in first aid and have experience of high-pressure incidents so would be well equipped to work alongside ambulance colleagues.

The training that has been taking place this week has included familiaris­ing the firefighte­rs with the ambulance. Firefighte­rs are being shown how best to use stretchers and trollies and moving and lifting patients.

The ambulances will be available 24 hours a day on 12-hour shifts, seven days a week for six weeks.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has also been helping with distributi­ng personal protective equipment (PPE) to care workers during the crisis.

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