Until recently the Joint Response Unit (JRU) had two emergency vehicles patrolling north Kent, Medway and Swale every evening and at weekends. The units are staffed by a police officer and a paramedic who jointly attend calls where both services are likely to be required. By working together the team can often swiftly resolve incidents and prevent the need for further patrols and ambulances being required.
Though supported by Kent Police officers the scheme is largely staffed by the Special Constabulary whereby skills from the Specials’ day jobs are utilised. Some of the volunteer officers, who have the same powers as a regular officer, include a doctor, solicitor and environmental enforcement officer.
The first Joint Response Unit was launched in March 2018 and covered the Medway and Swale areas. In August 2019 a second vehicle was introduced in Dartford and Gravesham.
Since March 2018 the JRU team have attended around 4,500 calls and saved the force in the region of £112,495. Since April 2020 SECAmb estimate more than 1,000 hours have been saved on the road, which equates to around 30 minutes per incident. In addition to time and money savings the JRU team have helped to deliver three babies.
Following the success of the north Kent units, a third vehicle has been introduced to the JRU team to cover east Kent. The team’s first shift took place on Friday, 30 October and by the conclusion of the weekend, the unit had attended 12 calls.
In 2019 an inspection by the Care Quality Commission for SECAmb highlighted the JRU as being an area of outstanding practice and a number of other forces have now launched their own units.
Special Inspector Ashley Collick of Kent Police said: ‘The team deals with an array of incidents from road traffic collisions, assaults, sudden deaths to sports injuries. No two shifts are the same and we are able to quickly deploy where we are needed most.
‘In some instances, we are able to deal with a call from start to finish and may negate the need for further resources to attend. In other circumstances, we can quickly triage an incident and ensure the appropriate additional support is sent.
‘Often the arrival of both services together can de-escalate a potentially violent situation from happening, especially when alcohol is a factor.
‘The introduction of a third vehicle is a significant step forward into rolling out JRUs across the county and is testament to the hard work and dedication of both organisations to offer the people of Kent a first-rate service.’
SECAmb Operating Unit Manager for Dartford and Medway, Will Bellamy, added: ‘I’m delighted we’ve extended the JRU in Kent. We of course always work very closely with our police colleagues but the unit allows for even greater partnership working. Its attendance not only benefits one particular incident but also improves efficiency and reduces the time we spend at an incident, ensuring the JRU and other vehicles are free to attend other calls.’