FIREFIGHTERS have started driving ambulances to support South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) with their response to the pandemic.

The first firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) officially began their new roles this week, forming response teams with clinicians from SCAS who will lead on all medical decisions and actions.

Assistant Director of Operations, Rob Cole said: “Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service stand ready and able to help and support our partners across the Local Resilience Forum and communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

“This partnership approach makes use of the firefighters’ professional capabilities around driving vehicles, usually fire appliances, on blue lights, and their existing immediate emergency care medical skills.

“We are proud of the hard work and professionalism of our amazing crews and staff helping to make life safer in any way we can.

“We already work closely with partners and unions and we welcome this agreement needed to deal with these unprecedented circumstances."

Head of Operations for Community Engagement & Training at South Central Ambulance Service, Nic Dunbar said: “The skills that firefighters bring with them and their experiences of dealing with emergency services make them ideal to support us during the response to COVID-19.

"The two services are used to working together and this support enables us to maintain the best possible service during a peak in demand and staff sickness levels.”

"This agreement builds on the successful co-responder partnership between HFRS and SCAS which has been running for over 14 years, seeing firefighters operate in dedicated emergency medical response vehicles."