Firefighters in our region have been driving ambulances, to help emergency services tackle the coronavirus crisis.
South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) has been supported by employees at Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS), who collectively provided nearly 30 blue light driving shifts.
14 firefighters have been involved in the collaboration so far (19/05), operating the two additional ambulances based at Nailsea Fire Station and SWASFT's Bristol Ambulance Station.
Ross Morgan, On-Call Firefighter at Chew fire station, said: “This has been an incredible experience during incredible times.
"At the start of the year, I didn’t think I would be driving ambulances but I’ve learnt a lot and it has been interesting to see how others operate.
"When the Service asked if anyone wanted to help, it made sense. I can drive a fire engine so wanted to do what I could to help."
Overall, 34 staff at the fire service have now been trained to drive ambulances - the first wave of workers finished last weekend.
The initiative follows an agreement between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union to support local authorities and the NHS.
Iain Campbell, Station Manager and volunteer lead for AF&RS, said: “So far, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both our ambulance colleagues and staff who have put themselves forward during these unprecedented times.
“Not only are we supporting ambulance crews, but our staff are learning more about how our colleagues operate and it has really strengthened our bond within the blue light family. Similarly, SWASFT have come back to say how much their staff have also benefited from working closer with fire service staff.
“Mostly though, I want to say thank you to our staff who have put themselves forward to support during these trying times."
Avon Fire and Rescue Service hopes more employees will get the opportunity to support SWASFT over the next couple of weeks. The assistance will continue until 5 June.
Ross Morgan from AF&RS. Credit: SWASFT
Derek McCullough, SWAST's project lead, added: “We are incredibly grateful to AF&RS and other fire services across the South West for their support during this time.
“The partnership has involved our fire service colleagues helping us to crew 15 additional ambulances as part of our wider COVID-19 response plan.
“AF&RS are helping to make a significant contribution to our patient care and our ability to respond to increasing demands on our service."