Firefighters from across the West Midlands have gone back to the classroom to brush up their knowledge of the health and social care of vulnerable people with tutors from City of Wolverhampton College.
Seventeen staff from fire stations in Wolverhampton, Fallings Park and West Bromwich have learnt about infection control, mental health conditions, safeguarding, and equality and diversity so that they can respond to certain non-emergency calls in an appropriate way.
The initiative is part of a region-wide project whereby firefighters attend ‘non-injury falls’ – where older or vulnerable people have fallen but not suffered an apparent injury – rather than an ambulance being immediately dispatched. .
Under the scheme a brigade response vehicle, with three crew on board, is sent to where the person has fallen. Staff assess their condition, decide whether medical attention is required, and either call for an ambulance or help the person back to their feet.
They also check on the person’s general health and wellbeing, refer them to other agencies such as social services or the NHS falls prevention service if necessary, and test smoke alarms and other safety measures in the home.
The training was delivered by three of the college’s health and social care tutors and will now be disseminated to around 400 staff from West Midlands Fire Service to enable them to respond to non-injury falls appropriately.
Watch commander Tony Bucknall, from Wolverhampton fire station, said: “The scheme is enabling us to build a safer, stronger and healthier community by making people safe in their own homes.
“Staff are now aware of the importance of guarding against infection, how to communicate with those who may have dementia or other mental health conditions, and how to recognise signs that people may be at risk.
“The feedback has been excellent and the training will now be rolled out to crews from across the region so that when they arrive at a call they will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them to offer a more personalised and appropriate service.”