Pirate FM News

Cornwall gets more tri-service safety officers

tri-service officer

Published by Emma Carton at 8:40am 13th December 2018. (Updated at 8:44am 13th December 2018)

By Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

Cornwall was the first place in the UK to have the Swiss Army knife equivalent of an emergency services officer and will soon have 10 across the county.

Tri-service safety officers (TSSOs) have a unique role working for the police, ambulance and fire and rescue service.

Andy Hichens was the first TSSO to be appointed in the UK and was based in Hayle.

The qualified on-call firefighter and ambulance service emergency first responder has also been trained in crime and disorder duties as well.

He had worked as an on-call firefighter before he was seconded to be the first TSSO in 2014.

"It has been really interesting and challenging. One thing I have had to do is address understanding internally and externally about what we do.

"People think about the title but forget about the safety aspect of the job and people think it’s about reducing the numbers of police officers or firefighters.

"It's not about that – we are here to complement what is there already and, in a way, filling a gap which is in the service".

Andy Hichens

Andy Hichens tri-service officer
More officers who work for the police, fire and ambulance services are being trained to serve across Cornwall

TSSOs are deployed in areas which may not have a full time police, fire or ambulance presence and are unique in what they do.

They do not have the powers of a police officer and focus on safety and prevention as well as responding to incidents.

They can challenge and respond to anti-social behaviour problems and also play an important role in relation to safeguarding.

Andy explained that TSSOs have a unique position in that they can access data which is gathered by all three emegency services.

He said that on a normal day a TSSO will go on duty like any other officer and they monitor the airwaves of all three emergency services for any incidents which need assistance:

"When there isn't something to work on there is always some work on prevention that can be done and we also respond to 101 calls about things like nuisance neighbours".

In safeguarding, the TSSOs can find themselves coming into contact with vulnerable adults and children who might need help and support.

Andy explained that there had already been some successful work done to help those in need.


tri service officers
Tri-service officers will be based in St Just, Hayle, St Ives, Fowey/Polruan, Perranporth, St Dennis, Looe, Lostwithiel, Liskeard, Bude and Tolvaddon

And, of course, there is also responding to emergency incidents. Andy recalled one such incident which happened on a Friday morning in July.

"When doing checks on my vehicle and equipment I had a call from the ambulance service saying there was a female in cardiac arrest three-quarters of a mile from my location.

"I was able to administer CPR on the lady within three minutes of the call and got a pulse from her before she was airlifted 12 minutes later. She went on to live and recover.

"Her son had been there and was doing CPR when I arrived so I was able to take over and had a defibrillator and oxygen with me. He was very grateful.

"It's just an example of how we are able to respond quickly and increase the capacity of the service".

Andy Hichens

Andy explained that 80% of work done by TSSOs involves all three emergency services.

There are now 10 TSSOs, many of the newest recruits are currently going through training and will be operational next year.

They will then be located in St Just, Hayle, St Ives, Fowey/Polruan, Perranporth, St Dennis, Looe, Lostwithiel, Liskeard, Bude and Tolvaddon.

Since the TSSO was launched in Cornwall other emergency services in the UK have started similar programmes.

tri service officers
There are now 10 TSSOs and many of the newest recruits are currently going through training and will be operational next year.

Pete Brown from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: "The tri-service officers add significant value in responding to medical emergencies and supporting communities, and treating patients who may not need an ambulance".

Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, says it is part of her pledge to make sure people get a return for that council tax rise:

"Independent evaluation of the role has taken place and has evidenced a clear benefit to all three emergency services.

"Earlier this year the public backed my plans to invest in new ways for our communities to become safer.

"I promised people that if they paid more they would get more in return and the roll-out of TSSOs across Cornwall is the start of that, as is the development of community responders in Devon".

Superintendent Matt Longman, Cornwall's partnership superintendent, had praised the roll-out:

"I am incredibly proud that Cornwall is leading on this project nationally. The pilot was brilliant one and it's quite right that it is being expanded to cover more areas.

"The individuals in the roles so far have been exceptional in the service they have delivered.

"We have new ones currently in training now and, much like the PCSOs required when they first arrived, once people get used to seeing them and understanding the role they have they will be seen as vital to keeping our communities safe".

And for Andy, the role of a TSSO has been good for him: "It is a very fulfilling and satisfying role. We do it to make a difference in the community".

Pirate FM spoke to Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker back in 2016, when firefighters and the ambulance service joined under one roof in Truro...

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