It’s in the bag – Medical solutions for Fire & Rescue Services

Evolution is the key to survival. Survival, the catalyst for change. Without them we would not have developed as a species; would still communicate using smoke signals; and our Fire and Rescue Services would still be using buckets to manage fires. Fire personnel with IEC bag

Everything changes and UK Fire and Rescue Services are no exception. In the last decade they have seen a dramatic change in workload and call types.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) have been providing ‘Co-responders’, to South Central Ambulance Service for over 13 years, so it was a natural evolution to develop this medical provision further. However, this decision presented a problem – the need for the right equipment, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right price.

To find a solution, HFRS made contact with DS Medical – an experienced UK provider of emergency medical equipment, consumables and bespoke response bags. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service project lead, Crew Manager Kerry Charlton, chatted about their experience of this partnership…

Q.  Hi Kerry. So please tell us how the need for using DS Medical’s services and products arose?

A.  We were funded by the Government to collaborate with health and for us as a service to improve our medical capabilities on the frontline. Initially, we looked at just having defibrillators, which lead to us considering what the service wanted to achieve overall with equipment and training.

Increasing our medical capability would mean up-skilling staff and upgrading our existing medical equipment and response bags. This led us to contact the team at DS Medical.


“DS Medical worked with us rather than just selling a product – they wanted us to be happy with the product as much as we wanted to be.”


Q.  What goals were HFRS trying to achieve with this project?

A.  We wanted to enhance our front-line capability and assist the local community. We wanted to provide a service beyond emergency response, so for example, in areas like falls management. Our ultimate goal was to offer ‘Fire as a Health Asset’.

Q.  Was anything in place before you engaged with DS Medical to provide you with a solution to meet your project goals?

A.  To an extent. We had medical equipment that met our needs and training at the time. The introduction of formal clinical governance added new skills, so we developed the Immediate Emergency Care (IEC) programme. However, we required additional equipment to deliver this.

Q.  What were the top reasons for selecting DS Medical to assist you with this project?

A.  As a distributor, DS Medical is not limited to selling products from just one manufacturer – they were able to offer us a wide range to choose from. This was a positive for us.  They also offered a personal service and built a relationship with us. They never tried to push anything and were clear that changes could be made along the way if needed. It was never a difficult conversation to be had.


“Increasing our medical capability would mean… upgrading our existing medical equipment and response bags.  This lead us to contact DS Medical.”


Q.  That sounds very supportive Kerry. So how easy or hard was it to get started with the services and products DS Medical provided you with?

A.  Very easy. We were given the freedom to try the medical equipment and our bespoke response bag for as long as we needed. Afterwards, we were able to give DS Medical feedback and change things to suit our needs.

There was a minor manufacturing hiccup with a pouch. This was resolved within a week from point of recall to returning the pouch back to us. DS Medical worked with us rather than just selling a product – they wanted us to be happy with the product as much as we wanted to be.

Q.  How did DS Medical’s services and products help you to overcome any challenges you had?

A. It was an evolving process to develop the response bag and equipment. We wanted to make sure the equipment was professional and credible. The in-house clinical experience and expertise at DS Medical meant they understood what standard was needed. They spoke the language and understood our needs.

Equipment stowage was a key challenge for us, as was being able to use the equipment within the physical space limitations of an operational environment. The modular bag that DS Medical designed offered a great solution for these challenges.

Q.  How does the solution from DS Medical differ from any alternatives you considered or tried?

A.  DS Medical’s procurement process was definitely the biggest factor for us when we compared to other alternatives. By comparing competitor offerings it demonstrated to us that the DS Medical response bag was the right option.

Also, as time was of the essence, the accessibility and speed at which DS Medical worked made them a natural choice. Other companies had a more sales based approach and did not deliver in the early stages.


“DS Medical offered a personal service, they built a relationship with us… It was never a difficult conversation to be had.”


Q.  How would you say the equipment and response bag you now have has helped your organisation achieve the project goals?

A.  The design, modification, equipment, and purchasing were delivered on time and on budget. This is a big tick in the box for us. It has ensured the project as a whole can continue to be delivered on schedule and that the up-skill training programme has not been impacted. Staff have also been able to be ‘hands-on’ with the finished product from the start.

The internal reputation of the training department has been maintained, with operational staff responding positively to the delivered solution.

Q.  Fantastic stuff. So Kerry, what would you say is the biggest single reason you would recommend DS Medical and their services and products?

A.  I would say the general approach of DS Medical. Whatever our requirements were, big or small, they were keen to work with us. Everything was‘doable’.

Great stuff Kerry! – Many thanks for chatting to us and sharing your experience of working with DS Medical.

If your organisation is looking for a complete medical solutions partner then contact the experts at DS Medical.

Images:  ©2016 Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (reproduced with permission) & ©2016 DS Medical

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