Durham Fire 180The first patient to be saved by a fire and rescue crew, as part of an emergency medical responder pilot with North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), has been reunited with the members of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue (CDDFRS) who came to her aid.

Sixty-eight year old Linda Broxson of Seaham (pictured) had just been dropped off at Deneside working men’s club for her weekly bingo night by partner John, when she collapsed unconscious and went into cardiac arrest. First on scene to help Linda was crew manager Paul Hodgson, firefighter John Hunter and firefighter Steve Bramley from CDDFRS just minutes after the 999 call was received by North East Ambulance Service.

CM Hodgson said: “We knew we were responding to an unconscious patient who had suffered a cardiac arrest and wasn’t breathing and were met by a lady on arrival who was surprised to see the fire engine. I quickly explained that we were emergency co-responders trained to help and that the ambulance was on its way.

"This was the first job we attended like this and, as you would expect, it was a bit daunting initially, but once we reached Linda our training kicked in. My crew did an excellent job clearing Linda’s airway, commencing CPR and attaching a defibrillator before the paramedics arrived. We are so pleased that Linda is recovering well and it’s been a pleasure to meet her in better circumstances."

The rescue was part of CDDFRS' new role as one of four regional fire and rescue services now responding to medical emergencies as in a six-month trial scheme across the North East.

Head of operations Keith Wanley: "In the three weeks that this trial has been running, the three CDDFRS stations taking part have responded to more than 250 emergency medical response calls, with as many as 23 on our busiest day; we have also reached two other unconscious non-breathing patients, in separate incidents, in time to revive them using CPR. We are pleased with the way the trial is running; there is good communication between our crews and NEAS paramedics and we will be monitoring the trial throughout the coming months."

CDDFRS recently further showed their commitment to working with health partners by the signing MIND Blue Light Pledge. The Service chose ‘Time to Talk Day’ 2016, a campaign run by Time to Change to get people talking about mental health, as a fitting date for the official signing by the chief fire officer at its headquarters in Belmont, Durham.

So far CDDFRS has 24 trained staff who provide this service in addition to their regular role. Running an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which offers staff free confidential access to a team of specialist advisors, counsellors and consultants, 24 hours a day.

Updating a dedicated mental health support page on the staff intranet providing information, contacts and news about the latest initiatives locally, nationally and further afield. Following the signing of the pledge, the Service continued ‘Time to Talk Day’ at its headquarters in Belmont, Durham, by inviting staff to take some time to chat, enjoy a tea or coffee with cake or fruit, visit a number of stands giving information about mental health and sign a mood board.

Stuart Errington, chief fire officer for CDDFRS, said: "The pledge is part of the MIND Blue Light Programme, which was set up to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from fire, police, ambulance and search and rescue services across England. It is important for us to look after the mental and physical health of our staff, so they are fit and well to help others as their jobs demand and to support them in achieving a happy work/life balance."