[A] pilot scheme has been launched which will see the emergency services combining efforts to provide the community with highly-trained, multi-agency officers.
Joint Emergency Services Officers (JESOs) will be working in Cumbria as part of a Blue Light collaboration scheme which is seeing the police, fire and rescue and ambulance services work closer together than ever before.
The first two JESOs are Police Community Support Officers who have also been trained as retained firefighters, allowing them to work in a police role whilst also being available to respond to fire and rescue emergency incidents.
One of the JESOs is based at Walney and another in Copeland.
Superintendent Justin Bibby said: “This is a pilot scheme but there is a great deal of potential in having officers trained to assist across multiple emergency services.
“Joint Emergency Service Officers could be particularly useful in rural or isolated communities where having a community Police Community Support Officer who is also a retained firefighter would be an enormous, practical benefit.
“The JESOs can also be utilised for joint prevention work so that, when the PCSO is educating people about crime prevention, they can also give fire prevention advice.”
The ambulance service is also involved in the collaboration work with the potential for future JESOs to, for example, receive additional life-saving training to be able to assist paramedics.
John Wall, Group Manager at Cumbria Fire and Rescue, said: “The collaborative work on-going between the different blue light emergency services is in line with the demands of the Police and Crime Act 2017 which places a statutory duty on emergency services to collaborate more closely to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
“Another piece of collaborative work which has already been but in place is Joint Incident Command Units (JICUs). There are three JICUs placed around the County and they will provide a modern and effective incident ground communications system as well as a briefing area. The JICU vehicles will be used at multi-agency incidents as joint command co-location points, at single agency incidents or at community safety events by any of the blue light services involved.
“The co-location and communication opportunities provide multi-agency working under the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP).”
The Joint Incident Command Units will be an invaluable resource in large-scale emergency incidents such as flooding. They are equipped with awnings to provide a briefing space, radios, internet access and much more, to allow the different emergency services to work effectively whilst operating in the field.
Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “I am very pleased to see this pilot is going well. It is clear that in a county like ours where all emergency service resource is stretched and with a large sparsely populated area to cover, we must ensure we are working as closely together as possible.
“Where other counties are concentrating on governance issues, we will continue to look for practical collaboration opportunities which are focussed on delivering real value and more importantly much needed practical and effective service and support to Cumbria residents. This scheme and the joint command units are a great start and an indication of more to come.”