Woodhall Spa ‘fire ambulance’ scheme is crazy

Woodhall Spa Fire Station EMN-140519-161444001
Woodhall Spa Fire Station EMN-140519-161444001

People living in Woodhall Spa have given a resounding ‘thumbs down’ to controversial plans for a ‘fire ambulance.’

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and East Midlands Ambulance Service is proposing fire crews could drive patients to hospital in ambulances.

They announced ‘fire ambulances’ will be stationed at three fire stations - including Woodhall Spa - from July as part of a £491,000 trial.

Residents, though, are against the idea with some claiming it is “crazy.”

Their views come as The Fire Bridge Union threatens legal action to stop the scheme even starting.

Louise Machin, of Woodhall Spa, said: “If they bring this in the firemen will be driving someone to hospital in Lincoln and they’ll have to send a fire crew from Lincoln to put out a fire. It’s crazy.”

Len Duncan, of Tattershall, said: “They need to sharpen up the ambulance service, but asking firemen to help isn’t on.”

Mark Proctor, of Woodhall Spa, said: “We had a fire a couple of years ago and the firemen were brilliant.

“Firemen fight fires. Ambulance men drive ambulances. Simple.

“They arrived in minutes but they won’t be able if they’re on the other side of the county.”

Fire crews already attend medical emergencies, but their Union say it has concerns over the legality of the fire ambulance consultation process and the effect proposals would have.

They are asking that a condition stipulating that the mobilisation of fire engines would always take priority over ambulances is put into any agreement.

Karl McKee, FBU secretary for Lincolnshire, added: “These proposals play Russian roulette with fire safety and could lead to damage to property, loss of businesses and even loss of life.

“Local firefighters are happy to work with any other agency when appropriate, but we are not here to prop up ambulance cover at the expense of fire safety.

“East Midlands Ambulance Service now deny there are massive delays when ambulances arrive at hospitals that would keep firefighters away from fighting fires for hours at a time, but how can we believe them when not long ago they admitted the problem and were discussing how to overcome it?

“Common sense must prevail as the communities of Lincolnshire deserve better.”

The FBU also dismissed claims made by the service that the chances of a fire or other incident occurring while an ambulance is deployed is not very likely as “missing the point”.