CFOA Summer Conference – Fire as a health asset

Steve Hynes from North West Ambulance Service spoke at the CFOA Summer Conference next, in a session with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) CFO Pete O’Reilly titled ‘fire as a health asset’. Steve first looked at the national ambulance service, and then the north west regional service. He outlined the Ambulance Service’s workload and the challenges faced – and the improvements that have been made in patient outcomes through working with partners across the NHS.

Steve looked at the drivers behind change – and described how this change is taking place in Greater Manchester. He described the progress made in ensuring that patients are provided with the care they need, and the evolving role of enhanced assessment and treatment, patient management, and working more closely with GPs and community services. Steve outlined the collaboration activities that have taken place between the Ambulance Service and other blue light services, including multi-agency sites.

Pete O’Reilly looked at the journey towards the multi-agency relationships that have developed and strengthened in Greater Manchester. GMFRS’ aim is to protect and improve the quality of life of the people in Greater Manchester – in very many different ways. This has developed from early initiatives to fit smoke alarms for those in need, through to today’s NHS ‘Five Year Forward’ plan from NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens. Pete recognised the new financial realities that are being faced, and said that to keep firefighters and the public safe, and to reduce fire damage, the service will need to embrace, adapt, and adopt new technology, and change their approach to safety in the home and their wider community role.

GMFRS has 200 partnerships, which enable people to be referred to the fire service, and to refer those in need on to appropriate partners. Pete highlighted GMFRS’ track record in prevention  – with a 50%+ reduction in demand over 10 years. He suggested that value can be added to prevent accidental deaths in the home with work on areas such as falls and accidents, and in responding to cardiac arrests.

Pete talked about the Community Risk Intervention Team (CRIT) activity that GMFRS undertakes, involving multi-agency working. They had support for their Fire Transformation Bid to help fund this work from a huge range of partners. He described some of the case studies that the intervention teams have worked on. Relationships have been built, allowing services to know the appropriate people in other agencies to speak to about issues.

The work of Seattle Life Support Service was outlined – and the learning that can be taken from this. Pete concluded by describing how the fire service is acting as a health asset in Greater Manchester – through the CRIT teams, through being first responders, through Community Risk Reduction Teams, and through CPR training. As Strategic Health Lead for CFOA, Pete explained how this work is leading change, including through a project group that will produce principles and guidance and aim for consensus with partners.

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