East Sussex fire crews work with ambulance service to fight Covid

Fire crews for East Sussex are helping the ambulance service deal with increased demand caused by Covid.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 11:32 am

With increased pressures on the NHS and the ambulance service due to more and more cases of Covid, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) has seen a rise in calls to assist the ambulance service (SECAmb).

This has prompted Dawn Whittaker, chief fire officer, to back the national saying - Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

ESFRS regularly assists the emergency services, including when paramedics are unable to gain entry themselves or helping paramedics remove patients from their homes to ambulances.

Dawn Whittaker

The number of calls for this kind of assistance received by the fire service in December last year was the highest in two years and it rose by 28 per cent compared with November. Between April and December last year, the service saw a 33 per cent increase in calls to assist the ambulance service access domestic properties compared with the same period in 2019.

Earlier this year, five ESFRS firefighters were trained to drive ambulances and to assist qualified medics. Between April and June last year ESFRS staff also delivered 1.8 million items of PPE to various ambulance hubs across Sussex, Kent and Surrey.

ESFRS also helped with the Covid testing of lorry drivers at Newhaven Port over the Christmas period and support vulnerable people by calling them and offering support and fire safety advice.

Ms Whittaker called for the public to help play their part in combatting the virus.

She said, “While local emergency services are pulling hard together to deal with the incidents and issues that arise during the pandemic, we all have limited capacity and are also dealing with increased absences in our own workforces.

“We completely understand that folks are really fed up with restrictions, but please help to minimise the spread of the virus by staying home to protect the NHS and save lives, until the vaccination programme starts to take effect.”

Mark Eley, associate director of operations at SECAmb, said, “We would like to thank our colleagues at ESFRS and other partner organisations for the ongoing support they have provided SECAmb throughout the pandemic.

“We continue to face significant pressure on our service and are extremely grateful for the support our fire service colleagues are able to give us at this challenging time.”

SECAmb is urging the public to only dial 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency. People should speak to their GP or pharmacist when it’s not an emergency and also seek health advice online at 111.nhs.uk or call 111.