A project that has helped thousands of people in need across Greater Manchester has scooped a national award.

 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Community Risk Intervention Team (CRIT) was set up last year to support the work of the emergency services.

 Its aim is to help people stay safe in their homes but also respond to low-priority calls from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and Greater Manchester Polices (GMP) relating to falls in the home, cardiac arrest and concern for welfare.

 Since going live, teams have responded to 2,832 calls for GMP and NWAS and have carried out 1,089 prevention visits. Now that work has been recognised by Fire Magazine Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards which named CRIT as Project of the Year.

 CRIT received the award for its ‘innovation’ and the savings it has made to the public, by taking pressure off the other emergency services and councils.

 Councillor David Acton, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman, said: “We are delighted to win this award. We have never embarked on a project like this before but we could see an opportunity to support the community and our partner services in a different way.

 “Many lives have been saved and situations improved for our residents as a result of CRIT and we have been able to develop this work further since the team was introduced, as firefighters are now responding to cardiac arrests meaning more people are being given a better chance of survival.”

 Over the past year, CRIT teams based in Agecroft, Wigan and Wythenshawe have worked alongside GMP, North West Ambulance Service and local authorities to respond to cardiac arrests, falls and concerns for welfare, as well carrying out prevention work, such as fitting handrails and carrying out Safe and Well visits in people’s homes.

 

One person who has benefited from the project is Edward Kane, who called the police thinking there was an intruder in his Blackley back garden. He was surprised to receive a visit from the fire service who searched for any intruders and reassured Edward, who suffers from learning difficulties.

 

The team responded after being allocated a ‘concern for welfare’ job by GMP and this was just one example of the positive intervention work that led to CRIT winning ‘Project of the Year’.

 Edward’s brother Stephen was full of praise for the initiative. He said: “Edward told me the police had sent the fire service to check on him. At the time I thought he may have been confused, but when I checked at the local police station they confirmed he was right.

 “Edward said the crew were great, they listened to him while he told them what had happened. They checked all around his home to make sure everything was safe and they put him at ease.

 “I check Edward’s post for him, as he can’t read or write, and I found two letters from GMFRS’ Assistant County Fire Officer Geoff Harris as a follow up, which was a nice touch.

 “Having seen the benefit of what they are doing, I think this Community Risk Intervention Team idea is fantastic.”

 The project came about after a successful bid to the Government’s Fire Transformation Fund and is one of many aspects of GMFRS’ transition to fire being a health asset. The fire service has helped reduce the number of fires, and deaths and injuries from fire through a wide range of prevention initiatives and is now offering crime prevention and health advice to support other agencies to reduce incidents.

 For further information and case studies about CRIT visit: http://www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/about_us/what_we_do/key-projects/crit/

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