Military personnel drafted in to back up ambulance service in Harborough and across Leicestershire
Military servicemen and women will help respond to non-emergency patients as demand climbs and a growing number of EMAS staff fall ill with the coronavirus or are being forced to self-isolate.
They will work alongside Urgent Care ambulance crews.
The crews attend non-emergency patients “requiring inter-facility transfers” or patients seen by a healthcare professional such as a GP who has decided they need to go to hospital.
“The aim of this proactive step is to reduce delays currently being experienced by non-emergency patients, enable our emergency crews to focus on responding to emergency 999 calls, and help relieve some pressure in the wider NHS system,” said the ambulance service.
Ben Holdaway, EMAS’s Director of Operations, said: “As an ambulance service, the most important thing for us is that we are able to provide emergency care to our patients when they need it.
“Transmission rates of Covid-19 in the community have continued to rise, and we have seen an increased number of EMAS staff needing to self-isolate or be absent due to testing positive for Covid-19.
“Combined with the intense pressure the whole NHS system is under, and the high demand on our service, some of our less urgent and non-emergency patients are waiting longer for an ambulance than they should rightfully expect,” said Mr Holdaway.
“Our new military colleagues will bolster the Urgent Care part of our service which attends non-emergency patients.
“This in turn will ensure our emergency ambulance crews can focus on attending the life-threatening and serious emergencies in our communities.
“While the introduction of military support has always been part of NHS plans in case of increased pressure, we are taking this proactive step now to safeguard the provision of a safe 999 service for our patients in the coming weeks,” he added.
“We look forward to making our new military colleagues feel welcome at EMAS.”
Military personnel brought in will not be driving on emergency blue light 999 calls and will wear their military uniform while supporting the ambulance service.
They are due to begin training later this week and will complete a three-day EMAS familiarisation training course led by a Clinical Education team.
They will be available to support Urgent Care crews 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
The military contingent will carry out important support tasks such as:
· Driving the vehicles
· The safe moving and handling of adult patients and essential equipment
· Support in Adult Basic Life support including the use of automated external defibrillation
· Raising any safeguarding concerns as appropriate.