Northamptonshire's firefighters on stand-by to bolster under-pressure ambulance service

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County crews training for support roles alongside emergency medics in battle against Covid-19

Northamptonshire firefighters will be put stand-by to work as ambulance drivers as a contingency plan to cope with any deepening of the Covid-19 crisis.

Frontline fire service personnel, control room staff and logistics teams are being trained to join the East Midlands Ambulance Service.

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Some will work alongside urgent care medics carrying out support tasks such as driving and safe moving or handling of patients.

Latest Government figures say the Covid-19 outbreak has so far been connected with 172 deaths at Northamptonshire's two acute hospitals at Northampton and Kettering as at 5pm on Sunday (April 19) while 882 people in the county have been infected, according to NHS figures at 9am yesterday (Monday April 20).

The county's Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “Our firefighters are committed to supporting their community in every way that they can and are proud to be playing their part to support our colleagues in the ambulance service as we deal with this national emergency.

“We will continue to respond to fire and rescue emergencies whenever we are needed, while we adapt the way we work to meet these new challenges with pride.”

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Firefighters are already driving vehicles for other emergency services in parts of the country hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

County firefighters are on stadn-by to bolster ambulance servicesCounty firefighters are on stadn-by to bolster ambulance services
County firefighters are on stadn-by to bolster ambulance services | other

In London, up to 300 firefighters are helping paramedics after the London Ambulance Service said it was receiving an unprecedented 11,000 emergency calls a day.

And a dozen Yorkshire firefighters have been trained to drive ambulances to the new regional Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, which opens today (Tuesday April 21).

Six fire services across the region will each send between ten and 12 staff for training at four centres including Northampton next week. Most will be on-call firefighters.

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EMAS chief executive Richard Henderson said: “We have always worked closely with our fire and rescue service colleagues at the many multi-agency incidents we attend.

Northants' Chief Fire Officer Darren DoveyNorthants' Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey
Northants' Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey | other

"In recent years, this relationship has become even stronger thanks to blue light collaboration at some of our stations in Leicester, Lincoln, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

“In addition to such collaboration, we already work closely with fire co-responder schemes across the region and have done for many years.

“During these unprecedented times, we are more grateful than ever for the support of our blue light colleagues for offering to step in to support our staff and our patients.

“Having these robust plans for support from our fire service colleagues will help to ensure that our EMAS clinicians can continue to provide care to our patients who need us most.”