Armed police in West Yorkshire are responding to certain life-threatening medical emergencies at the same time as an ambulance to give patients the best possible chance of survival.
The emergency co-responder scheme between Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and West Yorkshire Police has been activated 40 times since it was introduced on September 5.
And officers have successfully resuscitated five patients who were then taken to hospital.
Firearms officers are routinely on patrol across the county, which means they may closer than the nearest available paramedic when a 999 call comes in.
Superintendent Mark McManus, of West Yorkshire Police’s Operations Support section, said: “There is a big misconception that armed officers only do something when a call comes in around weapons, and that simply isn’t the case.”
He said these “exceptionally well-trained” individuals were first and foremost police officers whose main instinct and duty was always to help people.
“There are many occasions where our armed teams have given specialist trauma care to victims of the most serious road traffic collisions, or helped keep someone alive who may have attempted self-harm,” he said.
The officers are already trained to provide life-saving emergency care and carry defibrillators in their standard kit.
Paul Stevens, head of community resilience for YAS, said the collaboration made “perfect sense” as emergency services work closer together than ever to meet increasing demand.
“Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation are undoubtedly the most important steps in the chain of survival and are time critical,” he said. “We have a responsibility to ensure we explore every available option to improve clinical outcomes for our patients.”
When a call about cardiac or respiratory arrest is received, a team of two firearms officers is sent at the same time as an ambulance – not as a replacement.
However, if they have already been deployed to a police incident or a high priority police incident is called in simultaneously, then they will not be diverted to the ambulance call.
Supt McManus said: “This isn’t us taking on ambulance calls; this is about using the exceptional training our teams have to make a real difference when they are not attending other emergency police calls.
“The reality is this may only be a couple of calls a week, but if in doing so they can save lives, it’s undoubtedly a positive thing.”