ARMED response police turning out to life-threatening medical emergencies at the same time as ambulance crews have saved five people since the start of a new scheme in September.

In the past seven weeks, firearms officers have been called out 40 times as part of the new co-responder scheme between Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and West Yorkshire Police.

The innovative initiative is about giving patients in cardiac or respiratory arrest the best possible chance of survival.

Since it started on September 5, five patients have been successfully resuscitated and transported to hospital with a cardiac output.

Superintendent Mark McManus of West Yorkshire Police’s Operations Support section described it as "a fantastic piece of partnership working" and said: “There is big misconception that armed officers only do something when a call comes in around weapons, and that simply isn’t the case. These are exceptionally well-trained individuals who, as well as being specially trained firearms experts, first and foremost are police officers whose primary instinct and duty will always be to help people."

He added: “This isn’t us taking on ambulance calls; this is about using the exceptional training our teams have to make a real difference when they are not attending other emergency police calls. The reality is this may only be a couple of calls a week, but if in doing so they can save lives, it’s undoubtedly a positive thing."

Armed officers are routinely out on patrol across West Yorkshire which means they can be closer to someone needing the most urgent medical care than the nearest available paramedic. The officers are already trained to provide life-saving emergency care and carry defibrillators as part of their standard kit.

However, if they are already at an existing police incident or a high priority police incident occurs at the same time they will not be diverted to the ambulance call.

Paul Stevens, Head of Community Resilience for YAS, said the collaboration with the police makes "perfect sense" and added: “The demand placed upon blue light emergency services increases every year and our approaches to providing the best response and best patient outcomes available are continually evolving. By exploring innovative and alternative ways of working with all partners, together we can ensure our service remains responsive and safe and this will lead to even more lives being saved.”