Paramedics move into 'hot zone' to speed up help
Specialist paramedics who enter the "hot zone" alongside firefighters during emergencies have been put through their paces in a testing exercise.
Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) paramedics faced a series of incidents within confined spaces in tests at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters.
Training manager Christian Wiggin said: "The HART team come into this exercise blind, simply not knowing what to expect. They only know they have to have the right kit for urban search and rescue.
"It was very hands-on for everyone, having to assess a real person who has real injuries. They learn to manage the situation in their own way and each team has managed it very differently, but very well.
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"The training has been invaluable: it doesn't get much more realistic in the area of casualty management."
Before HART crews were available, casualties would have been brought out to waiting ambulance personnel by fire crews, to a place of safety where treatment could begin.
It is hoped lives will be saved with specialist paramedics being able to access casualties as early as possible.
Warren Oak, from the fire service's special operations team, said: "It's very beneficial and a great eye-opener to see what equipment they have and for them to see what we have and how we operate.
"This is a great piece of partnership working and it is now recognised that it is critical that ambulance staff are able to have fast access to casualties.
"It's great working with them. The bottom line is that lives will be saved by HART crews reaching casualties at an early stage."