London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade have announced a new partnership to boost the Covid-19 emergency response which will see firefighters helping with a number of roles across the ambulance service.
Under the new agreement, up to 300 staff from London Fire Brigade (LFB) could drive ambulances and assist paramedics as directed.
The new plan, announced today (Wednesday 1 April), follows a national agreement last week between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union to support local authorities and the NHS, including ambulance services.
Chief executive of London Ambulance Service, Garrett Emmerson said: “We have a fantastic ongoing relationship with London Fire Brigade and regularly collaborate closely in a number of ways – whether that be co-responding to road traffic collisions and house fires, or our medics training fire crews to administer CPR and a use a defibrillator if they are first on scene at a cardiac arrest.
“This new agreement with LFB comes at a time when we and the rest of the NHS are facing the biggest public health challenge in our history.
“We are already dealing with unprecedented levels of demand as a result of Covid-19 – more than 11,000 people are calling 999 for an ambulance every day – and we know the peak of the pandemic is still to come. As part of our preparations we must reach out to all our partners to help boost our response so we can continue to treat every patient who needs us during this difficult time.”
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Andy Roe said: “We are committed to doing all we can to support a joint emergency response in the capital to Covid 19. Within hours of us agreeing the detail of how we can support London Ambulance Service and NHS partners, we had hundreds of firefighters step forward to volunteer.
“We’ve changed our operations to reduce non-critical training and some of the community safety work that we can’t do at this time, in order to maintain our operational resilience and provide support such as this for however long the situation lasts.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s great that our city’s firefighters have volunteered to take on additional critical roles during this crisis by supporting London Ambulance Service.
"Their commitment to keeping Londoners safe on top of their usual jobs builds on the remarkable community spirit we are seeing across the capital. I want to thank the London Ambulance Service for working night and day during this public health crisis to respond to the unprecedented demand they are seeing.
“I’m so proud of the way Londoners are working together to ensure we are well placed to respond to the unprecedented challenges we face in the coming weeks and help save lives.”
London Ambulance Service will have hundreds of firefighters working alongside our frontline workers. This will ramp up capacity fast to provide a massive increase in our ability to respond quickly to Londoners in need as demand further escalates across the capital.
As a fellow blue light service, the London Fire Brigade is perfectly poised to support us in getting Londoners the help they need quickly during these unprecedented times.
Having been previously trained by London Ambulance Service clinicians in basic life-saving skills, and qualified to drive emergency vehicles on blue lights, each London firefighter who has volunteered to help us will be trained and ready to support our skilled paramedics on the road in a day.
To be eligible, London Fire Brigade volunteers will hold the following qualifications:
Tasks firefighters may well undertake whilst volunteering include using their blue light driving experience to help drive ambulances alongside paramedics or using their existing first aid skills to help administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a use a defibrillator when responding to patients in cardiac arrest.
While carrying out their duties firefighters will wear their LFB workwear and be provided with additional personal protective equipment, including face masks, gloves and eye protection.