EMERGENCY services in County Durham have become the first in the country to pledge their support for an initiative aimed at helping people with dementia.

Durham Police, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) and the North East Ambulance Service signed the document following work with the Alzheimer’s Society.

They have agreed to work together in a number of areas, including making sure officers can support people with dementia before, during and after emergency incidents, working to improve the safety of people living with dementia and their carers and becoming dementia friendly employers.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “The new strategic commitment between the emergency services is a positive step forward towards protecting and supporting those suffering from dementia.

“I have personal experience of supporting others with this illness, and I’m pleased to be working with like-minded professionals to ensure vulnerable residents get the committed help they need from our emergency services.”

Andrew Ball, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The emergency services play a vital part in keeping people living with dementia safe in their own community. By signing this document they are showing their commitment to ensuring staff have the necessary knowledge and understanding to support people living with dementia and prevent emergency situations happening.”

Every fire officer in the county has undergone training to help them recognise signs of dementia and last year referred around 250 people to the Alzheimer’s Society so they could access extra support.

Durham Police officer Rachel Stockdale said the force was hoping to do the same with its officers.

Mark Henderson, an advocate for dementia friendly training at CDDFRS, said: “We do a lot of work around health, not just dementia, and we’re really pushing that to show what else the fire service can do beyond the core work of firefighting.

“It’s really taken off and been successful.”

Yvonne Ormston, NEAS chief executive, said: “We’ve found huge benefit from working together on this.

“The majority of our work has moved away from trauma and 90 per cent of it is now non-urgent so we’re in people’s homes and communities. There’s a need to link up with other services and I think this is a great coup for the North-East.”