Long Sutton fire station offers not one but two emergency services to people living within an eight-minute radius.
The crew has been acting as co-responders in medical emergencies as part of their fire service role for some years.
Since last summer though, the firefighters are even better equipped to save lives after taking delivery of a fully-equipped ambulance.
The station was the first in Lincolnshire – and possibly the country – to pilot an ambulance as part of the Joint Ambulance Conveyance Project.
Retained watch manager at Long Sutton Richard King says last year the crew responded to 722 calls, and of those 699 were medical emergencies undertaken since the ambulance arrived.
He says: “As far as I know we are the busiest retained station in Lincolnshire. We were the busiest before we got the ambulance because we still turned out to medical emergencies in the area.”
He puts this down to the fact that the area is what he calls “a bit of a retirement community”.
The firefighters at Long Sutton are all retained and, like Richard, combine their community role with their day job, in Richard’s case as a stonemason.
There’s a rota system in place, with some crew on the ambulance and others on the fire rota, the different tones on their pagers alerting them to the kind of emergency they are responding to.
Richard says: “It’s difficult because there are only eight of us. We are very short. Realistically we need four or five more people to come forward to be able to fully man both vehicles all the time and allow for time off as well.”
New recruits undertake around five weeks of training to acquire the skills needed to become a retained firefighter and, after a period of six months or so, around a further two weeks for the medical side.
Richard says: “The two services combined work really well together. Since the start of the project I believe our skills have been very much enhanced by doing the ambulance project. We have learned more, and are able to help the paramedics much more than when we were co-responders.
“You learn so much from watching the paramedics doing their jobs and they get confidence in what we are doing and allow us to do more and have confidence we can do certain things for them.”
The retained firefighters are not volunteers, but are paid for both roles when called out.
The Brigade offers flexible contracts, and Richard is hoping that this may encourage people interested in supporting their community, and who live within five minutes of the station, to consider training to become a retained firefighter.