Soon, volunteer firefighters from 50 CFA brigades will support Ambulance Victoria providing life-saving first aid and resuscitation in response to 000 calls.
The program will be initiated in various strategic locations around the state of Victoria. It will be called The Fire Medical Response (FMR) program.
It is believed that patient outcomes can be further improved in areas where a CFA brigade may be able to reach a patient more quickly than an ambulance can get there.
FMR brigades will provide life-saving CPR, defibrillation and support to paramedics and will be dispatched simultaneously with the nearest ambulance to the patient.
CFA Deputy chief officer Garry Cook said, “CFA has the largest geographical footprint of any emergency service in Victoria with more than 1100 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.
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.”
Ambulance Victoria already delivers some of the best cardiac arrest survival rates globally.
Ambulance Victoria clinical operations acting executive director Anthony Carlyon said, “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 for those in cardiac arrest more equitable for all Victorians.
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.”
A multi-day training course will be undertaken by FMR responders, developed, and delivered by paramedic educators from Ambulance Victoria, and be equipped with Ambulance Victoria-compatible defibrillators.
Brigades in priority areas will be consulted by CFA over the next few months to finalise the 50 locations. The first tranche of FMR brigades is expected to be operational in early 2023.
A dedication of $3.9 million will go to the development and ongoing delivery of the program.