DARTDevon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service’s 20th co-responder station has gone live, following funding from a local charity.

The charity Devon Ambulance Response Teams (DART) funded and supplied a vehicle for firefighters to attend to patients. It is believed that this is the first co-responder service to be supported and funded by a charity in this way.

A number of fire stations in Devon and Somerset take part in the co-responder scheme with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to ensure the quickest possible response to certain medical emergencies.

So when ambulance control receives a 999 call, local firefighters will be mobilised alongside the ambulance service and provide initial medical treatment and care to patients before the arrival of the ambulance. The firefighters involved have been trained by the ambulance service to deliver basic life support, oxygen therapy and defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “It has been recognised that the chances of survival for a person suffering from cardiac arrest increase dramatically when they receive medical treatment at the earliest opportunity.

“We are extremely grateful for the donation from DART to enable us to increase our coverage of co-responding stations, which is already one of the largest fire service networks in the UK.”  

Rob Horton, the Responder Manager for South Western Ambulance Service, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to provide this co-responder service for our patients and I would like to sincerely thank them, and DART, for their support and commitment, which makes this new service possible. Early medical intervention undoubtedly saves lives and every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest. The sooner that patients receive help the more likely they are to make a full recovery.”

DART raises funds to help provide that early intervention, particularly in rural and remote areas where response times for the emergency services may be longer. The charity has a five year plan to extend its support to all ambulance first responders, in both community and co-responding groups across Devon.

The Chulmleigh based charity aims to support volunteer community first responders groups and co-responding fire stations in villages and towns across Devon by providing additional resources and equipment. In Chulmleigh, which is the pilot project for the charity, DART has provided a 4x4 and other equipment and will fund approximately half of the running costs.