An Orpington firefighter volunteering as an ambulance driver during the pandemic has helped to deliver a baby on his first shift just metres from the maternity ward.

Ian Tobin had to stop the ambulance 200 metres from the ward entrance to help deliver the baby girl in the back of the vehicle.

The firefighter, who is usually based at Orpington Fire Station, described his hands-on introduction to the ambulance service as "uplifting" and "memorable."

He was working alongside paramedic Richard Teare, on their first shift together when they were called to a woman who had gone into labour.

Their partnership formed part of a new initiative between fire brigades supporting local authorities and the NHS through the pandemic.

The firefighter, who joined the London Fire Brigade in 2017, said: "We were only two and half miles away from Croydon University Hospital so we thought we would be able to get the patient there to be checked over in the maternity ward."

With paramedic Richard in the back of the ambulance with the expectant mother, Ian drove on blue lights towards the hospital.

He added: "As we turned into the hospital grounds, I had a call from the rear of the ambulance to take it nice and slow.

"Not 30 seconds later I was told to stop and get in the back. We were 200 metres from the entrance of the maternity ward when a baby girl was delivered in the back of the ambulance.

"I was there to offer a pair of hands and both mother and baby were safely taken into the delivery unit."

Ian decided to volunteer on the ambulances to help the coronavirus emergency response efforts and boost his confidence in delivering immediate emergency care.

He is currently seconded to the St Helier Ambulance base in south west London.

Ian added: "In this prolonged period of uncertainty and on my first shift with Richard, I found this to be a particularly uplifting and memorable incident."

Hundreds of firefighters across London are nearing their second month working alongside their NHS colleagues.

Under the new agreement, up to 300 staff from London Fire Brigade drive ambulances and assist paramedics.

The firefighters are based at ambulance stations across London and are dispatched in vehicles alongside one medic.

According to the London Fire Brigade, the firefighters involved are trained in manual handling, vehicle familiarisation, driving, and use of COVID-19 specific PPE. They have also been equipped with a fitted-mask and issued with boots and high visibility jackets.

The initiative was announced on April 1 following a national agreement between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union.

London Fire Brigade's Deputy Commissioner, Richard Mills, said: "I am very proud of the work that our firefighters have been doing over the last few months to support the London Ambulance Service.

"In a particularly troubling period, it's great to hear such positive stories like this."

Pauline Cranmer, Director of Ambulance Services at London Ambulance Service, said: "Our partnership with London Fire Brigade has been vital in helping us rapidly scale up our capacity to respond to the increased demand for our services across London during the COVID-19 response."

He added: "Our colleagues from LFB have brought so much enthusiasm to their new roles here at LAS and have been responding to a variety of different patients across the capital."