FIREFIGHTERS are supporting calls from police officers for improvements to the failing ambulance service.

Keith Handscomb, of the East Anglia Fire Brigades’ Union, said members are fed up of being let down by the ambulance service, which is putting lives in danger.

Following criticism from the Essex Police Federation which revealed police officers are taking patients to hospital on a daily basis, Mr Handscomb said: “The concerns of the police come as no surprise to us.

Fire crews are telling us something is going seriously wrong with the 999 response of the East England Ambulance Service Trust.

“Casualties are waiting longer and when a paramedic does arrive they are often on their own in a car or on a motorbike and are unable to take seriously injured casualties to hospital.

“Fire officers tell us of their desperate frustration at being told to wait in line when chasing up emergency requests for the attendance of an ambulance.

“And we have received reports where EEAS have sent a private ambulance to casualties in a road traffic accident without either of the crew apparently having the professional medical skills needed to deal with the emergency.”

He claims paramedics are too scared to speak out and and accuse the ambulance service trust of “finding ever-more dubious ways to tick the boxes in trying to meet their performance targets whilst caring less and less about the standard of medical response they actually send to treat casualties”.

However, the East of England Ambulance Service Trust defended its record and said they are making changes.

A spokesman said: “Often it is not the case that ambulances are unavailable, simply that the information we are given from the scene indicates a non emergency, so the patient is given a longer waiting time than one in a life-threatening condition.

“Those in life-threatening situations are prioritised, similar to the way they are at A&E, to get life-saving help first.

“We want to do everything possible as emergency services to help one another, and we take genuine delays seriously so would therefore urge concerned fire and police officers to contact us about specific case details so it can be properly investigated.”