A police and ambulance Joint Response Unit (JRU), which began as a trial in December 2019, is proving to be a success in Brighton according to Sussex Police.
Staffed by Sussex Police and South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb), the unit allows for both teams to work together on incidents that require both services.
Police officers working for the JRU are familiarised with medical techniques, while paramedics are given advice on conflict resolution. This helps the teams understand each other and work together harmoniously.
The SECAmb vehicle used for the JRU contains medical equipment for paramedics, as well as everything needed by police officers to tackle crime.
The service runs on Friday and Saturday twilight shifts (6pm-2am) to meet the nighttime demands of the city. Most commonly, it responds to calls regarding assault, collisions, and alcohol related incidents.
Control teams for the ambulance and police services are fully aware of the JRU and make sure to deploy it when incidents which require both services arise.
Inspector Steve Hill shared some examples of incidents that could require the JRU’s assistance:
“The Joint Response Unit is a worthwhile initiative which involves police officers and paramedics travelling together to incidents which may require both areas of expertise, resulting in a more effective and efficient service.
“For example if there has been a fight and an arrested suspect has an injury, the medic could treat them then and there negating the need for officer to go and wait with them at hospital or call a double crewed ambulance. A cause for concern call could allow the officer to force entry to a premises to check and should a person be located there needing help, the medic is well placed to do so. Road collisions with injury are also an obvious incident where both services will be required.”
He also explained when and how the unit can be self-deployed:
“The JRU also retains the ability to ‘self-deploy’ to an incident be it medical or police that they feel they could readily assist with. They can be proactively doing directed patrol activities, searching for missing people and if they are the closest unit to a category 1 medical emergency or a police assistance call they will attend.”
On average, the JRU responds to five or six incidents per shift, and this did not slow down during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Last month, the team responded to four separate calls on a single Friday night shift, which included a woman who was armed with two large kitchen knives and self harming, a man who had taken an overdose, a fight which caused an injury from a glass bottle, and a woman on the edge of a cliff in distress.
SECAmb operational team leader Tim Clark said:
“Setting up the Joint Response Unit in the city of Brighton and Hove, and working so closely with the Sussex Police has been a celebration of collaborative working, enabling us to provide a more focused and specialised response to incidents requiring both ambulance and police attendance. While JRVs are not a new concept to the South East Coast Ambulance Service, developing a joint working system within a busy and vibrant city such as Brighton and Hove presented a new challenge and the unit has proven to be an invaluable resource to both services.”
He emphasised the benefits of this new service for the response teams and residents of Brighton & Hove:
“It ensures a greater understanding of each services working practices, builds on our already robust collaborative relationship, reduces lost operational hours and, most importantly, provides the residents of Brighton and Hove with a more streamlined and tailored response to the varied and unique incidents we attend.”
This month, a second JRU unit for Sussex was created to operate out of Worthing on Friday and Saturday evenings. Their first shift was a busy one, during which the team responded to a total of 14 incidents.
Featured Image: © Sussex Police