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Medical and prehospital care training in UK fire and rescue services


Background: Fire fighters are often in a position to provide immediate medical assistance to casualties at the incidents they attend. Fire service national standards require competence in casualty stabilisation but the scope of practice is variably interpreted.

Objectives: To determine the current level and nature of medical training being delivered to UK firefighters.

Method: A postal questionnaire dispatched to the 62 fire and rescue services (FRS) of the UK, with telephone follow-up for non-responders and for clarification. Examination of syllabuses for healthcare training.

Results: The majority (66%) of UK FRS are training their fire fighters in first aid (beyond statutory first aid at work) and prehospital emergency care. However, the level of this advanced aid is not standardised across the FRS that provide it.

Conclusion: Medical training of fire fighters shows considerable variance across the UK. An adequate and appropriate level of medical training should be decided and agreed across all the UK FRS. In partnership with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, a national standard should be established so that all UK fire fighters acquire a common set of medical competencies.

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