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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 13:29 UK
Paramedics based in Ashford start 'hot zones' work
Hazardous area response equipment
The team will have breathing apparatus and chemical protection suits

A new service which sees specially trained paramedics work more closely with fire crews has started in Kent.

Forty ambulance staff have formed the county's first Hazardous Area Response Team (HART).

The team, which is based in Ashford, carries extra equipment with them to incidents.

The ambulance staff in the team will now work more closely with other emergency services.

Typically, paramedics have to remain in a safe area at an incident, known as a 'cold zone'. There, they have to wait for other emergency services workers to bring patients them to receive treatment.

This additional training gives paramedics and technicians the opportunity to work with partners, such as the fire service, inside what is called the 'hot zone', a difficult or challenging area with considerable safety risks.

Instant ground kit
Instant ground kit enables a paramedic to reach a patient in hazardous areas

Paul Sutton, a Chief Executive of the South East Coast Ambulance Service, says there are some cases where the HART will be vital to get closer to patients: "It may be a petrol tanker that's overturned, it maybe chemicals of some other sorts in hangers or warehouses that we get called to."

The HART was created after learning from the emergency response to the London bombings on the 7th July 2005 where ambulance crews were not able to be deployed into the 'hot zones' where the bombs were detonated.

Paul Sutton says the HART will improve survival of people treated by ambulance staff: "There's some good evidence that patients actually survive much better and longer, if paramedics are actually able to enter the hazardous area and initiate treatment."

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