First responders’ concern about not using blue lights
Lifesaving volunteers in the Moorlands will no longer be allowed to switch on blue lights and sirens when travelling to medical emergencies from 1st April.
Currently some community first responders in Staffordshire are able to operate blue lights and sirens, but national legislation means vehicles will soon not be able to use blue lights and sirens while travelling, (writes local democracy reporter Kerry Ashdown).
A number of “enhanced” first responders are allowed to administer drugs but new rules mean they will no longer be able to carry the drugs they were previously able to.
Discussions are still taking place to clarify whether or not blue lights can continue to be used when vehicles are parked at the scenes of medical incidents, a West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said. He said the changes would affect 48 community first responders.
Concerns have been raised for the safety of first responders if they are unable to use blue lights while attending patients at scenes such as busy roads.
One first responders said: “They are expecting us to go to road traffic accidents, which are very frequently by 60mph roads in the dark and not put lights on, apart from hazard lights.
“Enhanced first responders can use drugs such as pain relief and stuff for heart attacks. We can use basic drugs but they have decided they want everybody on a level playing field.
“Sometimes we find ourselves there for 20 minutes before an ambulance gets there. We all want to give service to the public — we can still be useful to the community but not as useful.”
The West Midlands Ambulance Service has said it is enhancing the role that volunteer community first responders play in the community. Changes in their training will see them receive a regulated qualification.
The service said in a statement: “It also means that all first responders in the West Midlands will be trained to the same level by the trust’s education and training team, based at the National Ambulance Training Academy in Brierley Hill, the only education centre of its kind to be rated good by Ofsted.
“The changes will not only protect patients with the enhanced clinical governance arrangement, but will ensure first responders are protected through the qualification and training improvements.
“The move coincides with new legislation that stipulates that first responders are no longer able to use blue lights and sirens, and must all use specific livery on their vehicles. The trust will be assisting schemes who need to change the livery on their vehicles.
“The regulated national qualification will mean that all first responders within the Midlands operate to the same level in the use of drugs.
“Less than 10% of our first responders will be affected by the changes to use of blue lights and clinical practice.”
The service added: “First responders are an incredible valuable resource for West Midlands Ambulance Service and they all do a fantastic job for the communities in which they serve.
“Their primary focus is on saving the lives of patients who suffer from a cardiac arrest or heart attack and these changes will only increase their ability to do that.”