For two months now, London’s firefighters have been working alongside their London Ambulance Service (LAS) colleagues to keep up with the significant demands which are being placed on the capital’s emergency ambulance service.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) loaned some of its highly-trained blue-light drivers to help emergency ambulance crews get to emergency calls as LAS staff found themselves having to self-isolate after developing COVID-19 symptoms.
Without the help of the LFB, there would be significantly fewer emergency ambulances on the streets of the capital.
Firefighter Ian Tobin was given a hands-on introduction to his secondment with the London Ambulance Service when he had to stop the ambulance he was driving and helped deliver a baby just 200 metres from the entrance of a maternity ward.
Ian, who is currently stationed at the St Helier Ambulance base in south west London, was working with LAS Paramedic Richard Teare when they were called to a pregnant woman who had gone into labour.
“We were only two and a half miles away from Croydon University Hospital, so we thought we would be able to get the patient there to be checked over in the maternity ward.”
With paramedic Richard in the back of the ambulance with the expectant mother, Ian drove on blue lights towards the hospital.
“As we turned into the hospital grounds, I had a call from the rear of the ambulance to take it nice and slow.
“Not 30 seconds later, I was told to stop and get in the back. We were 200 metres from the entrance of the maternity ward when a baby girl was delivered in the back of the ambulance.
“I was there to offer a pair of hands, and both mother and baby were safely taken in to the delivery unit.”
Ian joined the LFB three years ago and decided to volunteer to assist on the ambulances to play his part in the emergency response to the pandemic and bolster his confidence with delivering immediate emergency care.
He said: “In this prolonged period of uncertainty and on my first shift with Richard, I found this to be a particularly uplifting and memorable incident.”
The Brigade’s Deputy Commissioner, Richard Mills, said:
“I am very proud of the work that our firefighters have been doing over the last few months to support the London Ambulance Service. In a particularly troubling period, it’s great to hear such positive stories like this.
“Our work with partners throughout the pandemic has provided us with even more opportunities to support Londoners in a number of different ways. We will continue to support our communities and provide a full emergency response for London.”
Pauline Cranmer, Director of Ambulance Services at London Ambulance Service, said:
“Our partnership with London Fire Brigade has been vital in helping us rapidly scale up our capacity to respond to the increased demand for our services across London during the COVID-19 response.
“With LFB’s support, along with other key partners, we are ensuring we are still reaching the patients who need us during this pandemic.
“Our colleagues from LFB have brought so much enthusiasm to their new roles here at LAS and have been responding to a variety of different patients across the capital.
“It has been such a valuable learning experience for our medics and the firefighters involved, and one that I’m sure will prove very beneficial even after they return to their roles at the Brigade.”
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