From the news…
Plan for firefighters to answer heart attack calls

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have voted by 122 to 21 to take industrial action short of a strike in a dispute over plans by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to force firefighters to attend ambulance calls. The union balloted its members after managers refused to enter negotiations.

The FBU said the issue also raised major concerns about the ambulance service’s inability to provide a speedy response to major medical emergencies. It said firefighters, unlike paramedics, were not trained to make medical diagnoses nor could they administer drugs.

The FBU is not happy about firefighters being forced to attend ambulance calls because:

• A two-day training course will not equip firefighters to deal with the range of medical conditions encountered;

• Firefighters attending an ambulance call will be unable to attend subsequent fire calls that may be received;

• Attending such calls is outside of the national agreement reached after the fire service pay dispute in 2002/2003

FBU Executive Council Member for London Mick Shaw said: “This dispute is not about firefighters refusing to use defibrillators. It is about firefighters not wanting to be ordered to attend a range of medical emergencies for which they will not be adequately trained, at the expense of providing a proper fire service.

“We do not want industrial action. London Fire Brigade must stop their confrontational approach, negotiate and discuss with the FBU what role firefighters may have in helping to reduce the unacceptably high level of deaths from heart attacks.

“The Ambulance Service also need to explain why it cannot deliver a speedy response to the most urgent medical emergencies. If it cannot perform the basics of what it is set up to do then that needs to be addressed by the health service.”

It looks like the government is looking towards merging the emergency/essential services in order to save some money. The LFB and LAS both think this is a bad idea – but who wants to listen to us…

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