Emergency services in Berkshire have begun a six-month trial which aims to improve access for paramedics getting to patients.
Firefighters from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) will be forcing entry into buildings when a patient’s life is at risk on behalf of South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) or Thames Valley Police.
They will be used when ambulance or police crews are unable to make entry into a building, with the aim of getting to patients at the most risk faster.
The trial began earlier this month.
Neil Carter, group manager at RBFRS, said: “We believe the trial will demonstrate that the speed of response and specialist skills firefighters have can contribute to improve the service for those in need across the Thames Valley.
“Joining up our response with our blue light partners should help to ensure that there are fewer obstacles or delays preventing someone receiving the care they desperately need.”
Police officers have traditionally forced entry into buildings for the ambulance service.
However they don’t routinely carry the equipment required, so the fire service is helping out as well to improve the times paramedics can get to patients.
Philip Astle, chief operating officer at SCAS, said: “We are pleased to be working with the three Thames Valley fire and rescue services to ensure we can gain access to patients as quickly as possible.
“Ambulance staff will make all attempts possible to gain access to a property prior to contacting the fire service.
“We would ask that any vulnerable members of the public have a key safe on their property and notify the emergency services of the code for this key safe.
“We are confident this pilot will be effective and benefit our speed of access to patients.”
Ambulance or police crews must be at the scene before a request can be made to the fire service.
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire’s fire services are also taking part in the trial in the Thames Valley.