Hampshire police set to respond to medical emergencies in deal with ambulance service

POLICE officers will be sent out to medical emergencies in a deal being signed with the ambulance service, The News can reveal.

Monday, 4th July 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:12 pm
Special Constabulary chief officer Tom Haye. Picture: Sarah Standing

Some officers will be given training and equipment to act as co-responders with South Central Ambulance Service while on their routine shifts.

Firefighters in Hampshire are already signed up to the scheme and treat people suffering strokes, cardiac arrests, choking, trauma injuries and shock. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service firefighters went to nearly 10,000 calls last year alone.

Special Constabulary chief officer Tom Haye said: ‘If agreed, this proposal would allow us to upskill our special constables to enable them to provide an even better service to our community.

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John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman. Picture: Sarah Standing

‘While their priority will always be policing, this scheme could enable them to better support people in the rural communities that we serve where it can sometimes be more difficult to get medical help in an emergency.’

Co-responders are used in a bid to get treatment to patients in life-threatening situations and ambulance crew are sent out at the same time.

They are trained in using a defibrillator and basic first aid.

But the move, which could see training start in about three months, has been criticised by the man who represents rank-and-file officers.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman. Picture: Sarah Standing

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said: ‘I know that the fire service are trained in some cases to a paramedic level and that’s fine because the fire service in between their normal calls have capacity, but police don’t.

‘They don’t have the capacity to be a sticking plaster for a broken ambulance service.’

He added: ‘This is all about police and other emergency services papering over the cracks of the failing NHS and failing ambulance service.’

He added that officers already provide emergency treatment when responding to 999 calls and it is right they do – but they should not be used to simply fill in for the ambulance service.

Early talks are being held with Scas and Hampshire police to train special constables who are part of Country Watch in rural areas.

The News understands the ambulance service will provide the equipment needed and a memorandum of understanding has already been signed with the Special Constabulary, which in total has around 360 volunteer but warranted officers.

A spokesman for the police said the scheme would operate as a trial at first, but would be similar to the fire service’s deal.

A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance Service said nothing had been finalised but community responders can help to save lives.

She added the scheme was not a response to a shortage of paramedics.

In 2014/15 firefighters went to nearly 10,000 calls, up from just over 9,000 in 2011/12.