Ambulance fears over fire strike
AMBULANCE bosses fear that crucial assistance from firefighters could be lost if county crews are involved in possible nationwide strikes.Balloting is still continuing for members of the Fire Brigade Union to decide on whether to strike over a pay dispute.
By Jessica Nicholls
AMBULANCE bosses fear that crucial assistance from firefighters could be lost if county crews are involved in possible nationwide strikes.
Balloting is still continuing for members of the Fire Brigade Union to decide on whether to strike over a pay dispute.
But chiefs at the East Anglian Ambulance Trust have raised concerns that vital help at crash scenes could be affected if strikes go ahead.
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There have been reassurances that no lives or property will be put at risk if the strike goes ahead but fears from the Trust have added another strand to the argument.
At a meeting, Trust Chief Executive Chris Carney said that being without the fire service for a period could be absolutely crucial.
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He described it as 'a very real anxiety' and that contingency plans must be put in place before the winter.
Fire crews often attend road accidents and use cutting equipment to release trapped motorists enabling paramedics to treat them or to take them to hospital.
Mr Carney said: "There are alternatives in place such as Green Goddesses and rescue teams in each area.
"But if there are two or three incidents on the go at any one time there will be a problem.
"There are a lot of anxieties and we have been planning for the past two or three months.
"We can't go into the end of October without a contingency plan."
But Ken Seager, Suffolk deputy chief fire officer said that the problem had been taken into account in the event of a strike.
He said: "The need to provide a service for vehicle accidents as well as fires has figured in our contingency plans if there is strike action.
"We would expect to be able to use a combination of our resources along with military assistance to offer this type of support to other emergency services such as ambulance crews.
In the event that strike action is announced, we would discuss how to provide this service with other agencies."