THE full extent to which the region's firefighters provided support during the first national lockdown has been laid bare in a new report.

Fire and rescue services across the south west not only maintained normal services for local communities, they also took up key roles in supporting the ambulance service and delivering PPE during the height of the first wave of the virus.

Key highlights of the report, covering the period March 24 to May 21 for all six fire and rescue services across the south west –including Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) – show:

• Fifteen ambulances were crewed by fire and rescue service staff

• More than 200 volunteers supported the South Western Ambulance Service Trust

• Nine million items of PPE delivered by fire and rescue services

• 75 immediately life-threatening (or category 1) calls attended

• One non-Covid 19 major incident dealt with

• Two babies delivered

• More than 1,200 calls allocated to fire and rescue service-crewed ambulances.

DWFRS chief fire officer Ben Ansell said: "This report highlights how my staff from across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Dorset, Wiltshire and Swindon supported our partners in 2020.

"Collaboration between our fire and rescue service and the ambulance service helped residents to get emergency medical care quickly when they needed it.

“Many of our firefighters are highly trained emergency response drivers, accustomed to dealing with emergency situations and I know they wanted to help in any way they could during this crisis."

In May the Echo reported how sixteen firefighters from DWFRS joined South Western Ambulance Service to help during the crisis.

Mr Ansell explained how fire and rescue service staff also worked with other partners across the service area to provide food for those in need and mortuary support roles when needed.

He added: "This has all been in addition to our prevention, protection and emergency response roles, which saw the service respond to, and deal with, one of the largest major incident wildfires in living memory in Wareham Forest.

"I am extremely grateful for the commitment and professionalism of all my staff in working in partnership to keep our communities safe."

The report, produced by the south west fire and rescue services on behalf of the National Fire Chiefs Council South West, is called 'Collaboration and multi-agency working during the Covid-19 pandemic.'