A pioneering partnership that has seen Wigan firefighters become medical life-savers as well as rescuing people from burning buildings has been hailed a success.
Since September 2015 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has been responding to cardiac arrest incidents to complement the expert service provided by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
And in the first year fire crews attended almost 3,000 cardiac arrests alongside ambulance teams. It means firefighters can begin basic life support at times if they arrive at an arrest before paramedics.
Where paramedics are already there firefighters can support providing basic life support to allow paramedics to focus on more specialist interventions to try to help victims to survive.
GMFRS is the only fire service in the country where all frontline engines respond to cardiac arrests alongside the ambulance service.
Assistant County Fire Officer Geoff Harris said: “The number of cardiac arrest incidents we have supported our NWAS colleagues with is very encouraging. Working in partnership with NWAS on the Survival Academy Network will enable us to build on this and help to create a nation of lifesavers.
“Our aim is to ensure that whenever a cardiac arrest occurs, someone is there that knows how to call for help, perform CPR, knows where the nearest PAD is and can use it to give the casualty the best possible chance of survival.”
Firefighters currently train alongside paramedics to perform CPR and early defibrillation, providing the best possible chances of survival.
Consultant paramedic Dan Smith said: “Fire crews can provide the essential basic life support for the patient by providing CPR and using a defibrillator, allowing NWAS clinicians to manage other elements of patient care, such as advanced airway management and the administration of intravenous drugs.
“NWAS staff have reported that having fire crews with them in these life-threatening situations gives them additional support and is of great benefit to the patient and their families. Fire crews have also reported that they feel their help is appreciated and there is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that they may have played a part in saving a life.”