Fire service helping paramedic during crisis


With the pressures on the NHS and the ambulance service due to the rising cases of coronavirus, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has seen a rise in calls to assist the ambulance service. Yesterday a major incident was declared in Sussex. Cases are up 56% in Wealden in the week to 6th January.

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker has called for the public to help play their part in combatting the virus:

While local emergency services are pulling hard together to deal with the incidents and issues that arise during the pandemic, we all have limited capacity and are also dealing with increased absences in our own workforces. We completely understand that folks are really fed up with restrictions, but please help to minimise the spread of the virus by staying home to protect the NHS and save lives, until the vaccination programme starts to take effect.

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker

Five firefighters have been trained to drive ambulances and to assist qualified medics.

During the Christmas period, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) supported the Covid-19 testing of lorry drivers at Newhaven Port and they helped vulnerable people by calling them and offering support and fire safety advice.

ESFRS regularly assists the emergency services, including when paramedics are unable to gain entry themselves or helping paramedics remove patients from their homes to ambulances. The number of calls for this kind of assistance received in December was the highest in two years and it rose by 28% compared with November. Between April and December 2020, the service saw a 33% increase in calls to assist the ambulance service access domestic properties compared with the same period in 2019.

Last year, during the Spring and early Summer, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service staff delivered 1.8 million items of PPE to various ambulance hubs across Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

Mark Eley, Associate Director Operations at South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said:

We would like to thank our colleagues at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and other partner organisations for the ongoing support they have provided SECAmb throughout the pandemic. We continue to face significant pressure on our service and are extremely grateful for the support our fire service colleagues are able to give us at this challenging time.

SECAmb is urging the public to only dial 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency.

When it isn’t an emergency, you should speak to a GP or pharmacist, or seek health advice online at or by calling 111 (if you can’t get online).

Wash Hands Cover Face Make Space

Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in the county. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group have said approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it. See their website for the latest advice:

  • Wash hands – keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face – wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Make space – stay at least 2 metres apart – or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions


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