PCC for Northamptonshire envisions ‘emergency service officers’

Police Commissioner Adam Simmonds
Police Commissioner Adam Simmonds

Accidents in future should be attended by ‘emergency service officer’ with some of the skills of police officers, firefighters and paramedics, the police commissioner for Northamptonshire has said.

In a speech to senior fire and rescue managers in Oxford, Adam Simmonds told of his vision for greater collaboration between emergency services and outlined his plans for closer integration between police and fire services in Northamptonshire.

He said: “Imagine if you were with me two decades from now. I will be 56. I will probably have three hairs left. Imagine that a young man and woman who feel called to public service, who want to make a contribution to their local community see an advert in the paper or online for ‘emergency service officers’.

“The advert asks them to consider saving, protecting and defending lives and communities; it offers a wide range of opportunities for development and growth; it says they’ll be trained in multidisciplinary areas and it guarantees variety, pace and a life less ordinary.

“These young people apply and get accepted and begin a new entry path for your successors...and those of the police and perhaps even the ambulance service.

“You see this hypothetical twenty years from now allows young people to receive basic training covering public service values, core skills of life saving and community protection, the law and what prevention and early intervention is all about. What community leadership is and how it’s made real.

“As these young people are joined by hundreds and thousands of others we begin to train and develop a generation of emergency service officers who have a loyalty to one service but experience and skills and vision across many different areas.

“Who once trained after a comprehensive training programme will be deployed by single control rooms to many different incidents and crises and be able to adapt and respond. Who will rotate specialisms throughout their careers and who will use powers as and when they are needed.

“Am I talking about a police car turning up to a fire with a ladder on the roof and buckets of water in the boot? No. But I am talking about an emergency response team turning up to an incident and deploying the skills they own to the situation they’ve been sent to without thinking which agency is needed because there’s only one agency now.

“This is a hypothetical twenty years hence where some laws have changed and we’ve made a seriously important shift in our thinking about how we deploy, recruit and retain staff and work out a way to pay for the kind of protection our communities need.”

Mr Simmonds said road accidents are a prime example of where it might be possible for 999 services to work better together.

Often a fire engine, ambulance and police are all required to attend a scene of an accident; to cut someone out of a vehicle, secure and survey a crime scene, and give medical treatment as a result of the crash.

Mr Simmonds said: “Back to the future I described earlier, we could perhaps consider sending just one vehicle to the incident, equipped with the relevant cutting equipment and the people trained to use them, equipped with the relevant medical equipment and someone with relevant medical expertise, and someone with the skills to maintain the scene of a potential crime.

“It is my sincere belief that if we are not willing to risk the unusual, we are destined to settle for the ordinary.

“Whilst it may not be the way we work now, it has to be a brighter way of working in the future.

“A road traffic incident is a matter for all of our services, so why not send one vehicle, with all of the relevant expertise on board and free up other vehicles to respond to other incidents across our communities?”