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Firefighters could pull double duty amid Covid peak fears

Seal Media Group, Australia

NSW Ambulance has asked Fire and Rescue NSW what assistance could be provided if required.It can be revealed that detailed plans are being discussed that could see firefighters seconded to driving ambulances if the paramedic workforce is overwhelmed.Up to 150 FRNSW staff could be required to drive ambulances in the event of a “worst-case scenario”, according to correspondence seen by The Daily Telegraph.Fire Brigade letterThe agency said it was ready to assist if needed.In addition to driving ambulances, FRNSW staff with basic life support training could even be called on to treat heart attack patients in “immediately life-threatening situations”. In a letter to the Fire Brigade Employees Union, FRNSW said it was considering a “pilot / trial” program where firefighters attend “priority 1A patients who are in cardiac arrest”.The trial would “support timely response to the community, in high demand periods,” the letter said.Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeMonetary compensation to participating drivers would be proposed. The proposal to trial firefighting staff on heart ­attack call-outs has raised concerns over “insufficient” support for patients.FBEU acting NSW secretary Martin Dixon said firefighters would provide first aid or medical attention in call-outs to car accidents and house fires but did not have the training and equipment to replace an ambulance in a heart attack scenario.“I don’t believe personally that our training sufficiently equips us to provide that service,” Mr Dixon said.Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said: “Utilising firefighters to drive an ambulance will not address the clinical treatment of a patient that requires two qualified paramedics.”A NSW Ambulance spokesman said the plans involved firefighters “co-responding to cardiac arrest patients where they are closer”. The spokesman confirmed firefighters “driving ambulances to free up paramedics to work with critically ill patients” was another option being discussed “as part of the ongoing surge planning”.FBEU delegate Ben Gaudin said he did not have a problem with firefighters driving ambulances as long as it was temporary, but he had concerns with firefighters being tasked to attend life-threatening cardiac arrest scenarios. “Paramedics are best at being paramedics,” he said. NAT – Stay Informed – Social Media

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