London’s firefighters responding to medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, would speed up attendance to 4,294 patients per year, according to a new report.

The number of incidents attended by the Fire Brigade has dropped 44% to 102,090 in the last ten years to 2013, whilst the Ambulance has seen a 42% increase (to 1,090,277) in the number of emergencies it responds to.

In 2014/15, the London Ambulance Service responded to 15,049 “RED 1 emergency calls”, where the patient’s condition is immediately life threatening such as reports of cardiac arrest. However, due to pressures on the service, it could only reach 67% of emergencies within its eight minute target response time.

‘Time Critical’ recommends fire fighters attend incidents with paramedics in order to speed up response times in an emergency. Under the proposals, if an ambulance cannot reach an incident within its eight minute target, a fire engine would be mobilised, reducing the time a patient would have to wait for a life-saving medical response. According to the report, firefighters could co-respond to 4,936 medical emergencies a year, reaching 87% (4,294) of them within the eight minute target.

GLA Conservative London Assembly Member, and report author, Tony Arbour said:

“The good news is that the number of fires and related deaths have been cut in the Capital thanks to the Brigade’s preventative work and changes to building regulations. However, our ambulance service, burdened with an ageing and increasingly unhealthy population, is missing its eight minute response target in about a third of life threatening emergency calls. If firefighters attended these life threating medical emergencies, thousands of patients could be helped quicker, and more lives could ultimately be saved. They already have the training, and like urban areas in America or Canada, they could be mobilised if an ambulance is unavailable or too far away. Once on scene, they would administer emergency care until paramedics arrive to take over. In situations such as cardiac arrest, every minute is vital when it comes to saving lives.”

The report calls on the Mayor of London, the Commissioner of the Fire brigade and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) to launch a ‘co-responding’ pilot in London.

‘Time Critical: The case for emergency co-responding in London’ can be accessed at


Click here to download the report

Or to save it right click 'save as' on this link