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Firefighters join fight against coronavirus in Cornwall

Firefighters join fight against coronavirus in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:20am 23rd April 2020. (Updated at 8:03am 23rd April 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Firefighters will be getting behind the wheel of ambulances for the first time in Cornwall to help increase capacity in the ambulance service during the coronavirus crisis.

Training has been taking place this week to prepare firefighters to be able to drive ambulances.

Under the plans there will be two ambulances which will be based in Launceston and Newquay.

They will be driven by a firefighter who will be accompanied by an ambulance medic.

The ambulances will be attending lower category incidents but may go to more serious incidents if required or are in close proximity.

Both ambulances are fleet vehicles and are part of plans which South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is rolling out across the region.

It will be the first time that firefighters have driven ambulances in Cornwall, but similar schemes are already in place elsewhere in the country.

Martyn Addinall, fire station manager at Tolvaddon, said it was a good example of emergency services working together.

“They will be going to the bread and butter cases,” he said. “They will be driving but they may also have to assist where necessary.

“If the situation (with Covid-19) gets worse then they may have to attend higher category incidents.”

Martyn explained that all firefighters are trained in first aid and have experience of high-pressure incidents so would be well equipped to work alongside ambulance colleagues.

The training that has been taking place this week has included familiarising the firefighters with the ambulance.

When we visited we saw firefighters being shown how best to use stretchers and trollies and moving and lifting patients.

The ambulances will be available 24 hours a day on 12-hour shifts, and for seven days a week for six weeks under the plans.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has also been helping with distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to care workers during the crisis.

Local businesses have been offering supplies of PPE which have been delivered by the fire service to those that need it.

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