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Partner working helps people get emergency care faster

Date: 8 May 2024

In the East of England, over 360 people have received faster emergency medical help thanks to a partnership between the ambulance and fire services.

Firefighters, trained by East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) can now act as Community Wellbeing Officers (CWO). These officers can respond to urgent medical emergencies until ambulance crews arrive.

Community Wellbeing Officers also respond to less urgent cases, like minor falls. They are trained to assist patients from the floor and make an assessment. They then discuss their assessment with a clinician in the ambulance control room to determine whether the patient can be safely left at home, needs directing to other services, or taking to hospital.

Since December 2023, Community Wellbeing Officers across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Essex have helped 362 people, with 42% avoiding hospital visits or further ambulance assistance.

They've been particularly helpful in remote areas. On the 67 occasions they’ve been sent to urgent cases, they arrive on average about six minutes before ambulances.

Tom Barker, Head of Collaborative Response for EEAST said:

“We’re delighted to be working with our fire and rescue colleagues.

"Together we are improving the speed of response and support for people in their homes and providing home safety checks.”

Local data

  • Total number of calls attended by Fire and Rescue Services (Dec 2023 – April 17) - 362 calls
  • Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service CWO have attended - 91 calls
  • Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service - 59 calls
  • Essex Fire and Rescue Service - 212 calls
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