North East fire crews to continue offering emergency medical treatment
A trial which has seen firefighters across north-east England deal with medical emergencies is to be extended.
Since January four fire services have worked with the North East Ambulance Service to respond to life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrests.
During the trial, firefighters attended 2,904 patients - more than 1,800 in the Durham and Darlington area.
Ambulance service bosses have now agreed to extend the trial until at least February 2017.
Fire crews have been equipped with a medical kit with the aim of helping to improve survival rates when they are first on the scene.
Ambulance service operations manager Gareth Campbell said: "Demand on the ambulance service has increased by nearly 20% since 2007, meaning we receive a new 999 call every 65 seconds.
"Over the last six months, fire crews have been able to reach the scene of many incidents and deliver lifesaving care in those first critical minutes until an ambulance clinician has arrived, thereby improving the survival rates of our patients. "
He said the programme would continue to be monitored closely.