A joint emergency services team set up to protect vulnerable people and reduce demand on 999 responders in Sheffield will continue its work for another six months, having visited hundreds of homes in the city during a successful trial.
The Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team, set up by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police and supported by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, sees staff visit homes to reduce fire risk in properties, provide reassurance and support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, improve security and help people who have fallen.
The team has carried out almost 300 crime prevention checks and more than 350 home safety visits, which include the fitting of free smoke alarms, during an initial six month trial.
The team also responds to help people at high volume, lower priority incidents, including helping 61 people who have had a fall, are not seriously injured, but are unable to get up on their own. Other work has included visiting dozens of vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour or burglaries and completing enquiries in relation to ten missing people.
Some of this work traditionally takes police staff and paramedics off the road for many hours.
The team won the award for best NHS Collaboration at the Health Business Awards 2016 event in London last year and emergency service bosses say the team is the best possible example of 999 agencies working more closely together in South Yorkshire.
SYFR Head of Prevention and Protection Steve Helps, said: “During its first six months, this team has more than proven its concept and has helped hundreds of people in Sheffield at the same time as keeping police and ambulance crews available for other, more serious types of incident.
“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work as well.”
Chief Inspector Jenny Lax from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The LIFE team is an excellent example of emergency services working together through collaboration to reduce the vulnerability of people in our communities and improve their quality of life”.
The team operates using two specialist vehicles and consists of four staff - two South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue employees and two South Yorkshire Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
The scheme has been funded by South Yorkshire Fire Authority and researchers from the University of Huddersfield have been commissioned to evaluate its effectiveness.
Last year the Government announced new proposals to transform the way the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work together. It wants to encourage collaboration by introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
In South Yorkshire, fire crews already attend hundreds of ‘medical break-ins’ every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.
A joint police and fire station in Maltby will open later this year, whilst five ambulance stand-by points are being created at five other fire service premises across the county.