Published: 17:25, 19 January 2021
| Updated: 17:49, 19 January 2021
A number of firefighters in the county have volunteered to help the ambulance service and provide support when needed.
The two emergency services have been working closely since the start of the pandemic and a number of firefighters received training during the first wave to help paramedics.
The fire service has helped deliver medical supplies and equipment where needed as well as building on existing partnerships such as the co-responder scheme which sees firefighters respond to life-threatening emergencies alongside ambulance crews.
SECAmb has been working with fire service across Kent, Surrey and Sussex to provide training for 18 firefighters which will enable them to drive ambulances "if and when required".
When working they will be paired with ambulance staff and the number of firefighters available to the service is expected to increase as training continues.
Executive director of operations at the ambulance service Joe Garcia said: “I am always incredibly grateful for the support of our fire service partners and especially so throughout this pandemic.
"I am pleased that we have a number of previously trained firefighters, who have undergone refresher training, ready to support their ambulance service colleagues as required.
'Where we can, we will always support our blue light colleagues...'
"We look forward to working with them and more of their colleagues to strengthen our resilience. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our partner organisations for the support they continue to provide during this period of increased pressure.”
The ambulance service covers more than 3,600 square miles across the south east, serving around five million people.
It responds to 999 and 111 calls across Kent and Sussex and has more than 4,000 staff across 60 sites.
The fire service's executive director Ann Millington added: “We are pleased to be able to assist South East Coast Ambulance Service during these unprecedented times by providing seven members of our staff to drive ambulances.
"All have been specially trained and ready to provide this support since the start of the pandemic, and we also have staff assisting at SECAmb’s make ready centres as required.
"Where we can, we will always support our blue light colleagues, to maintain resilience and help keep Kent and Medway residents safe and well.”
Last month the ambulance service reminded people of the challenges it faces during the winter period, with just 7% of its calls in the last 12 months falling into the most serious life-threatening category.