It has been a challenging 12 months for everyone and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) has played its role by stepping up and daring to be different. It has produced a video to showcase its work.

Since March 2020, staff from BFRS have been providing vital falls, driving, co-responding and bariatric support to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).

This has enabled the upskilling of firefighters and other fire service staff, freed up ambulances, reduced response times and enhanced community patient care.

BFRS has provided over 30 seconded firefighters to drive ambulances across Bedfordshire keeping more ambulances on the road. This was part of a co-responding initiative and firefighters, have been attending emergency incidents ever since.

It was important for BFRS during this crisis to support its Blue Light colleagues. Firefighters willingly stepped forward to volunteer to support EEAST. They did this because they have the skills and experience to work alongside paramedics responding to 999 calls.

This has been remarkable and both services have built on this collaborative spirit and camaraderie.

The Falls Service helps those that have fallen in their homes. Some falls may just need people to be helped to their feet or a chair and checked to ensure they’re safe to be left at home.

Others that have fallen are more serious and patients will need to be transported to hospital for further treatment. BFRS staff make an assessment, in communication with EEAST, and ensure that essential Ambulance services are best utilised.

As a result, over 77% of patients were safely left in their home, meaning they did not have to go into hospital for additional care.

Last August BFRS launched a new Technical Support Unit, based at Dunstable Fire Station. This was the first of its kind in the country. This vehicle responds to bariatric and complex patient incidents where emergency removal of a patient is required to support EEAST.

This dedicated vehicle carries specialist equipment including a bariatric stretcher which, enables crews to provide the best possible care to the patient. They can then be handed over to EEAST for further care.

This is part of the joint Blue Light Collaborations with various response vehicles being co-located at fire stations across the County.

Most recently, the BFRS supported the NHS by setting up six new vaccine Centres across Bedfordshire. These are running 7 days a week and opening 12 hours a day. It is also transporting supplies to all of the vaccine centres to ensure that they have the relevant equipment to operate as safely as possible.

Paul Fuller, BFRS fire chief, said:

“It has been important for us in this time of crisis to step up and ‘dare to be different’ which is one of our key values. I pay huge tribute to our staff who have stepped forward to volunteer to support EEAST.

“We have the skills and experience to support our colleagues and for us to work alongside paramedics to respond to 999 calls, as well as being the first on scene for medical emergencies and falls, which we have been doing over the past year.

“Our Firefighters are blue light trained to drive frontline emergency ambulances which frees up paramedics to care for patients. Our staff have been trained by EEAST, which included familiarising them with EEAST’s vehicles and equipment as well as life support and safe moving and handling skills.

“This ensures they are skilled enough to help treat and transfer patients. We will continue supporting our EEAST colleagues and ‘daring to be different’ during this difficult time.”