London firefighters drafted in to drive ambulances in the capital

8 January 2021, 00:06

London firefighters have been drafted in to drive ambulances in the capital
London firefighters have been drafted in to drive ambulances in the capital. Picture: London Fire Service

By Maddie Goodfellow

London firefighters have been drafted in to drive ambulances as Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise across the capital.

Firefighters have been driving ambulances in the capital since April, and have so far responded to 100,000 incidents whilst driving ambulances with the London Ambulance Service (LAS).

Today 125 firefighters are helping the LAS, with a further 60 set to be trained and dispatched next week in order to support the LAS and boost their emergency service response.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said the drafting of firefighters to drive ambulances shows "the Brigade continues to be ready, willing and able to do everything possible to combat Covid-19".

The most recent arrangement, put in place over Christmas, has seen over 100 firefighters volunteer to drive ambulances as LAS face one of the busiest times in their history.

Fire crews are assisting paramedics get urgent treatment to Londoners just like they did during the height of the first phase of the pandemic.

It comes as NHS staff at a London hospital have said they are working "to the limit" of their ability in rare footage from a coronavirus ward.

With the number of Covid cases rising across the capital and the UK, the hospital has vastly expanded intensive care capacity and moved staff without specialist training to high dependency roles to cover the workload.

It comes as a further 1,041 people died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus in the UK on Wednesday, the highest daily reported total since the first wave of infection in April.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has increased by 10,000 since Christmas Day, the NHS England chief executive has said.

Sir Simon Stevens said this was the equivalent of filling 20 acute hospitals, and added most of these people will have caught the infection between Christmas and New Year.

Speaking about the arrangement between the London Fire and Ambulance services, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “On behalf of all Londoners, I want to thank our hardworking firefighters for continuing to work tirelessly during the pandemic to keep Londoners safe. We are incredibly grateful to those from the London Fire Brigade who have volunteered to drive ambulances with the London Ambulance Service.

“The situation with the virus in London is extremely serious. In the midst of the biggest public health crisis we have seen in our lifetime, the Brigade has stepped up to support our blue light services when they are under immense pressure. Our firefighters have shown once again that our frontline heroes are the very best of us."

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Andy Roe said: “We’re ready, willing and able to support the national fight in combating Covid-19. At this crucial stage in the pandemic firefighters have once again volunteered to step up to support a joint emergency response to Covid-19. The arrangement will help keep ambulances on the road and get vital care to those who most need it.

“It makes me very proud to see so many firefighters eager to step up and volunteer at such a challenging time. Since April 100,000 incidents got an ambulance sooner because we've been assisting the London Ambulance Service.”

Having been trained by London Ambulance Service clinicians in basic life-saving skills as part of the training programme all firefighters receive and already holding qualifications to drive emergency vehicles on blue lights, each London firefighter who has volunteered to help us will be trained and ready to support our skilled paramedics on the road in a day.