CFA volunteers to boost cardiac arrest response


VOLUNTEER firefighters from 50 CFA brigades will soon be trained and equipped to provide life-saving first aid and resuscitation in response to Triple Zero (000) calls, in support of Ambulance Victoria.

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

While Ambulance Victoria already delivers some of the best cardiac arrest survival rates in the world, patient outcomes can be further improved in areas where a CFA brigade may be able to reach a patient sooner than an ambulance.

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

CFA deputy chief officer Garry Cook said the program was a natural fit for CFA.

“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,” he said.

“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 acting executive director Clinical Operations Anthony Carlyon said the FMR program further strengthened Ambulance Victoria’s close partnership with the CFA, and was fantastic news for regional communities.

“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,” Mr Carlyon said.

“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.

“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.”

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

CFA will consult with brigades in priority areas over the coming months before finalising the 50 locations. The first tranche of FMR brigades are expected to be operational in early 2023.