What is Community Assistance Team?
Launched August 1st 2016, The Community Assistance Team (CAT) consists of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service staff who are fully trained to assist members of the public who have fallen across Conwy and Denbighshire.
They have undertaken training in Immediate Emergency Care including defibrillator use, manual handling and lifting techniques, dementia and mental health awareness. Their branded response vehicle is equipped with all of the necessary specialist equipment, including lifting devices so as to safely assist a person back to a seated position.
The team are based in St Asaph and work a shift pattern covering known peak times between 7am and 11pm. Falls have been identified as a significant public health concern in older people; however a vast number of cases do not need medical intervention, therefore their request for an ambulance is set at low priority. This has meant that on occasions it has taken some time for the ambulance to be able to assist people.
The scheme aims to reduce the number of people who need to attend hospital as a result of a fall. The timely response achieved assists to prevent the worsening of any condition following a fall and negates the need for an ambulance or a hospitalisation on most occasions. Since this work began the average response time has been 26 minutes.
The public do not need to do anything differently to what they would have done previously to receive the service. Incidents received through the 999 system are triaged by the Welsh Ambulance clinical desk and if appropriate, the incident will be passed to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service Control who can then mobilise CAT. The person who made the call will then be informed that CAT will be attending.
Response from Service Users
Since this scheme was launched in August up until the 30th January 2017, the CAT staff have attended 248 calls, of which, 236 were able to stay at home.
Here is some of the feedback received from members of the public:
“My mother has early stage dementia, the last time she fell we waited hours as the ambulance service was busy and it ended with her needing admission to hospital. This team came in 20 minutes, explained everything to my mother and she stayed at home where she wanted to be. I think this service is excellent”
“Due to the teams excellent assessment of a patient when moving him and after noticing he had a swollen leg, that was very hot to touch and tight that they called for the patient to be further assessed. The patient was taken to ED where a clot (DVT) was found, he also believes that if the team had not had the presence of mind to call for further assessment he may well have lost his leg”.
Click here to view the evaluation report.