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Life-saving first aid training for Firefighters

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Ambulance Victoria Acting ED Clinical Operations Anthony Carlyon alongside Ambulance Victoria and CFA members. Photo - submitted

Volunteer firefighters from 50 CFA brigades will receive life-saving first aid and resuscitation training under a new program, supporting Ambulance Victoria in saving patients undergoing cardiac arrest.

The Fire Medical Response (FMR) program will be established in strategic locations right across Victoria which can best complement the Ambulance Victoria response.

Specific brigades haven’t yet been chosen, with CFA and Ambulance Victoria working to analyse a range of factors to determine where the training is most needed.

Though Ambulance Victoria delivers some of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the world, there are times when a CFA brigade may be able to reach someone undergoing cardiac arrest before paramedics can.

And that time is crucial, says Ambulance Victoria Acting Executive Director Clinical Operations Anthony Carlyon, with mere minutes sometimes meaning the difference between life and death.

“We know that when a person suffers a cardiac arrest, every minute that CPR and defibrillation is delayed reduces their chance of survival by 10 per cent. There’s no doubt FMR will improve survival rates for people in rural and regional Victoria, and make access to emergency care in a cardiac arrest more equitable for all Victorians,” Mr Carlyon said.

“Like the GoodSAM app which alerts bystanders to people nearby in cardiac arrest, FMR will complement Ambulance Victoria’s world-class service and improve patient outcomes.”

CFA Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook said the program was a fantastic idea, given the area CFA covers.

“CFA has the largest geographical footprint of any emergency service in Victoria with more than 1,100 volunteer fire stations with more than 50,000 members. This puts CFA in a unique position to complement the Ambulance Victoria response and deliver early intervention to cardiac arrests,” Mr Cook said.

“Our members care deeply for their communities and this program is another way for them to serve and literally save lives in their local area.”

FMR brigades will be dispatched simultaneously with the nearest emergency ambulances, providing life-saving CPR, defibrillation, and support to paramedics.

FMR responders will take part in a multi-day training course, developed and delivered by paramedic educators from Ambulance Victoria, and be equipped with Ambulance Victoria-compatible defibrillators.

The first tranche of FMR brigades is expected to be operational in early 2023, with CFA consulting with brigades in priority areas over the coming months before the 50 locations are finalised.

$3.9 million will be dedicated to the development and ongoing delivery of the program.