Trials are set to begin that could see Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service responding to 999 medical emergencies if they can get there quicker than an ambulance.

Talks have been on going between the fire service and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) that may see a pilot of the co-responding programme begin in April.

And if trials of what is termed blue-light service co-responding prove successful and cost-effective, the idea could soon be put into practice in Huntingdonshire.

Chief fire officer Chris Strickland said: “We are, along with our neighbouring brigades, in talks with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust around the options for co-responding in Cambridgeshire. Discussions are progressing well. Also we are hoping to commence trials in April, assuming all the additional training and personnel checks are completed in time.

“As a service we are continually exploring the possibilities of collaborations and partnership work and are open to new ways of working, so long as the circumstances are right to improve the service we provide to Cambridgeshire's communities.”

Across the UK, around a third of the country's fire services have already started working with the ambulance service by responding to 999 medical emergencies such as heart attacks, severe chest pains and choking.

A spokesman for EEAST said: “We strongly believe other 'blue light' colleagues have the ability to support EEAST in the delivery of services to patients experiencing an immediately life-threatening event.”

However it comes at a time when all emergency services are having to cope with ever-tightening budgets and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is in the midst of a consultation over cuts that could see £3million shaved off its annual budget in the next three years.

If the co-responding scheme is to go ahead there will be costs for training for firefighters throughout Cambridgeshire and replacement of some first aid equipment and defibrillators to be prepared for increased use.