New report highlights south west fire services’ COVID-19 support

By Jamie Hill - 17 November 2020

Community

A new report highlights the impact of multi-agency pandemic working undertaken by fire and rescue services (FRSs) across the south west of England – including frontline assistance provided to the ambulance service and the fitting of personal protective equipment.

From the end of January, the international spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has changed the way people live their lives, but fire and rescue services have stepped forward to support their communities and partner agencies through a nationally agreed Tripartite Agreement.

With NHS and community care heroes facing unprecedented challenges from COVID-19 on the frontline, south west FRS chiefs are immensely proud of the contribution made by their staff across the region.

Not only have FRSs maintained a strong and resilient service to local communities and looked after their own staff affected by the coronavirus, they have also used their skills, resources and ‘can-do’ attitude to support the wider combined response.

Across the south west, the activities of all six fire and rescue services were carefully co-ordinated to ensure that the collective response was as effective and efficient as possible.

Staff worked together to develop consistent approaches and made sure that the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and communities was always at the top of the agenda.

Now, this new report showcases some of the work undertaken by fire and rescue services across the region to support their communities through such challenging times.  

It demonstrates why fire service chiefs are so proud of every single member of their fantastic staff and how they remain ready, willing and able to step up during times of national need.

Some key highlights from the report covering the period between 24 March to 21 May, during the first national lockdown, include:

  • More than 200 volunteers supported the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
  • 15 ambulances crewed by FRS staff
  • 2.5% weekly increase in ambulance capacity
  • 75 immediately life-threatening (or ‘Category 1’) calls attended
  • More than 1,200 calls allocated to FRS-crewed ambulances
  • Two babies delivered
  • Nine million items of PPE delivered by FRS staff
  • One non-COVID-19 major incident dealt with

Ben Ansell, Chief Fire Officer at Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This report highlights how my staff from across Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Wiltshire and Swindon supported our partners in 2020. Collaboration between our fire and rescue service and the ambulance service helped residents to get emergency medical care quickly when they needed it.”

“Many of our firefighters are highly trained emergency response drivers, accustomed to dealing with emergency situations and I know they wanted to help in any way they could during this crisis. Our staff have also worked with other partners across our Service area to provide food for those in need, face fit testing for those needing to wear masks and mortuary support roles when this was sadly needed.

This has all been in addition to our prevention, protection and emergency response roles, which saw the Service respond to, and deal with, one of the largest major incident wildfires in living memory in Wareham Forest.  I am extremely grateful for the commitment and professionalism of all my staff in working in partnership to keep our communities safe.”

For the full report, visit https://www.dwfire.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Covid-19-Collaboration-and-Multi-Agency-Working.pdf

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