Norfolk’s emergency services have committed to new ways of working together and sharing resources to fight the current pandemic and keep the county’s communities as safe as possible.
While all blue light partners regularly work together in the line of duty, the commitment to mutual support has stepped up a gear in recent weeks and this has now been cemented by the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding, which defines how the services can best jointly support Norfolk’s communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff said:
“We have never been more committed to working as one blue light family.
"This pandemic has drawn on us all to make the most of Norfolk’s emergency resources to support our communities in every way we can to best protect the public and keep people safe during this crisis.
"We will do whatever we can to support ambulance and police colleagues by taking on some additional duties while maintaining our own effective emergency response on the front line.”
Changes already in place, as part of a national agreement, include the use of Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service (NFRS) firefighters driving ambulances for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) which started a fortnight ago and using large lorries to transport critical NHS medical supplies around the region so that hospitals and additional ambulances have all the kit required.
NFRS has temporarily adapted the way it responds to certain incidents. These additional changes include:
- Supporting colleagues from Norfolk Police by responding to an increased number of road traffic collisions
- Attending incidents on major road networks to assist the police where there is a risk to the public
- Attending forced entry calls, where access is needed to a premises by ambulance staff in order to be able to treat a patient in a medical emergency
Jointly, Norfolk Police and Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service are now supplying driving instructors to train an additional 250 people to drive patient transport ambulances. Those being trained include additional EEAST staff including student paramedics, military personnel and community first responders.
Further worked planned includes NFRS staff supporting communities, working with colleagues at Norfolk County Council to deliver medicines and other vital goods to local people as part of a collective response. Some NFRS staff are already volunteering for such community projects.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:
“There is already a close bond between emergency services in Norfolk and in any major incident, we work together for a common purpose; which is helping people.
"It is essential our organisations maintain the ability to respond to the public whenever and wherever they need us in an emergency and this agreement strengthens that relationship even further.”
Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer with EEAST, said:
“We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.
"Covid-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from our blue light partners, the public, businesses and other partners."
Norfolk County Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Proctor, said:
“This new Memorandum of Understanding builds on our previous collaboration work and is a shining example of our blue light services pulling together for the whole of Norfolk.
"I would like to thank the staff of all our emergency services for the way they are continuing to work tirelessly to keep Norfolk safe.”
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said:
“I welcome this excellent news which reflects the progress made around collaboration between our blue light services.
"This Memorandum of Understanding is a way of reassuring the public that their safety and protection is of paramount importance and is upheld in a consistent and professional manner.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all emergency service workers across Norfolk for the unfailing commitment they continue to show in the most challenging of circumstances.”
All Norfolk's emergency services continue to urge people to carry on playing their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.