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Friday 24th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Peter Lazenby and Conrad Landin

AMBULANCE services are so overstretched in South Yorkshire that firefighters are providing emergency medical treatment.

But most South Yorkshire firefighters have no training to provide such treatment, putting lives at risk, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said yesterday.

The union warned that only about a third of South Yorkshire firefighters have completed a four-day course in first aid.

In one case, crews had to treat a collapsed elderly woman who was not breathing, and an ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive.

Another crew had to treat a woman with a head injury, staying for two hours because no ambulance arrived.

FBU vice-president Ian Murray said it was “irresponsible and dangerous” to send untrained firefighters to medical emergencies.

He said: “The coalition government is guilty of presiding over an A&E crisis where ambulance and paramedics are dangerously overstretched.

“The current situation cannot continue.”

The firefighters’ union said fire crews across the country were being expected to plug gaps caused by funding cuts.

Tory politicians have called on the government to formalise the arrangement through mergers of emergency services.

MP Tobias Ellwood called in 2013 for blue-light services to be merged under a new homeland security department.

And earlier this year, his Conservative colleague Richard Fuller called on Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to join him in supporting a merged fire and ambulance service in the east of England.

Firefighters have previously raised concerns that such procedures could be deployed as an underhand tactic to deprive them of the right to strike.