Firefighters in row over medical call outs

Thousands
of firefighters in London are to vote on industrial action in a row over
answering medical calls.

The
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its members were being forced to attend cases
normally handled by the ambulance service.

Firemen
and women are not trained to make medical diagnoses or to administer drugs, the
union said.

Union
members in the borough of Tower Hamlets are already refusing to train for
medical duties and the FBU wants to spread the action across London.

Firefighters
are being offered a two-day medical training course, but union officials said
this was not enough to deal with life-threatening conditions.

Crews
attending medical calls are not available to deal with fire emergencies, the
union said.

Mick
Shaw, FBU executive council member for London, said the dispute was not about
firefighters refusing to use defibrillators.

"It
is about firefighters not wanting to be ordered to attend a range of medical
emergencies for which they will not be adequately trained, at the expense of
providing a proper fire service,” he said.

London
Fire Brigade said the aim was to work with the ambulance service to improve the
survival rates of heart attack victims.

By Michael Millar

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