Armed police are being sent to help heart attack patients as the crisis-hit National Health Service (NHS) struggles with staff shortages amid a surging demand
Police officers in armed response vehicles who are trained in first aid and defibrillators are being used to transport cardiac arrest patients to hospital because ambulances are “unable to cope” with the demand.
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The Independent reports: Officers are spending up to a third of their time on non-policing matters, a watchdog has warned, including responding to mental health crises and transporting patients to A&E as ambulance services face a “chronic crisis situation”.
Andy Cooke, HM chief inspector of constabulary, said that firearms officers have been responding to pleas from struggling NHS colleagues to respond to cardiac arrests.
He told The Independent that police are becoming the “first, last and only resort” as NHS services buckle under strain, taking them away from tackling crime at a time when recorded offences are at a record high in England and Wales.
Mr Cooke, the former chief constable of Merseyside Police, added: “Recently, officers in armed response vehicles (ARVs) were being sent to reports of people who were having cardiac arrests because the ambulance service couldn’t cope with the demand, because they’re trained in first aid and to use defibrillators.
“The ambulance service contacted the police to say ‘we’ve got this heart patient and we haven’t got anyone to send’.
“Being first, last and only resort, the police will go. It’s right that they did go but that hides the problems we’ve got in the rest of the system.”
One officer who spoke to The Independent anonymously said armed police were regularly being sent to ambulance calls in his force area.
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