A life-saving partnership between ambulance staff and firefighters has been extended with the addition of new co-responding fire stations in East Cambridgeshire.

From July 4, all on-call firefighters from Littleport and Soham joined the scheme, which is part of a regional memorandum of understanding with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).

It sees on-call firefighters sent to emergencies, in addition to ambulance clinicians and community first responders, where a patient is not breathing and their heart has stopped beating.

In rural locations, it’s likely that a fire engine would arrive first.

As the on-call firefighters are trained in basic life support and equipped with defibrillators, they are able to begin potentially life-saving treatment until ambulance crews arrive.

Speaking about the partnership, group commander Kevin Andrews said: “We’re very excited to extend this initiative to two additional stations in Cambridgeshire.

“Our on-call crews are already at the heart of their communities and have been very enthusiastic from the onset.”

Firefighters from Soham and Littleport in East Cambridgeshire have joined their colleagues at Ramsey and March stations who have been taking part in the scheme for a number of years.

Kevin says the team are passionate about providing the best possible service to the people of Cambridgeshire and that by building on the support they provide to EEAST, they will be able to help each other in delivering life-saving assistance.

“Building on collaborative work already undertaken, we can support the ambulance service in responding to the most life-threatening medical emergencies, by getting to patients quickly and starting basic life support," he said.

“We know that the quicker someone starts CPR and gets a defibrillator to a patient in cardiac arrest the better chance they have of surviving.”

EEAST has already trained the on-call firefighters, and will continue to provide ongoing support to those taking part in the scheme.

Regional Lead for EEAST, Tom Barker, said: “It’s important for residents to be aware that if they call 999 to report a cardiac arrest, a fire engine may arrive before an ambulance.

“We look forward to developing this partnership in the future.”