Working with Fire and Rescue
You are likely aware that Ambulance services across the country have been speaking with fire and rescue services about supporting DSA’s by utilising firefighters as blue light drivers in response to COVID-19.
We at Unison understand that some members may have reservations about being crewed with a firefighter for the duration of a shift. We hear the concern that members will be undertaking clinical duties for their entire shift, without a fellow trained clinician on scene to support them.
The numbers of firefighters deployed on a daily basis supporting our service are relatively few so many of you may not even see a firefighter at one of our stations. For those that are concerned, we have sought assurance from the Trust that no employee shall be forced to work with a firefighter as a crew mate if they do not wish it. You should not be told to work with a firefighter, but you will likely be asked if you can support the process. It is important to remember that you are allowed to say no, and shouldn’t be pressured into anything.
The Trust has been open that if we see the modelled demand peak from COVID-19 there may need to be a decision to enact splitting of crews to maximise ambulances, meaning you may be required to work with someone else. This will be an executive decision involving the Chief Executive, Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer and Unison will be consulted regarding its implementation.
We have suggested to the Trust that local management teams do not overburden those who are willing to work with a firefighter by continually scheduling them for those shifts, but instead that they rotate the additional driving support across different individuals given the ratio of firefighters to Ambulance employees.
As always, we continue to work tirelessly to achieve the best working conditions for our members. If you have a burning question or need some union support then don’t hesitate to get in touch (details at https://eeas.unison.site/branch-contacts-2020/) or you can ask a question through our new portal (https://eeas.unison.site/covid19-concerns/).