Firefighters have a new role

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 10-Nov-2017

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FIREFIGHTERS in Bendigo this week joined regional colleagues in an initiative that aims to better coordinate regional emergency responses.

Bendigo CFA firefighters have undergone first aid and CPR training and will now act as emergency medical responders, providing a first line of call to emergencies.

The CFA and Ambulance Victoria-led program has been rolled out in 27 brigades around the state, mostly on Melbourne’s urban fringe.

Their priority will remain on fires, but they will also be called to matters such as car crashes and other incidents where patients who have had a cardiac arrest need urgent medical attention.

It will only be necessary for them to provide the medical attention if they are first on scene, before paramedics.

The program began locally on Thursday, after more than 45 local career firefighters were trained to be able to respond to provide urgent medical care.

CFA district two operations manager Bill Johnstone said residents should not be concerned if they call for an ambulance and the CFA responds first.

“The data pretty clearly shows that with cardiac arrests the quicker the response and intervention the higher the chance of the outcome being better for the patient,” Mr Johnstone said.

“The ambulances are out on the road all the time, so this is a program where if we can get there to help out before they arrive, we will.

“It’s just strengthening the existing partnership between the CFA and Ambulance Victoria.”

Mr Johnstone said there isn’t a concern that firefighters may be overloaded with the additional responsibility.

“Ultimately we have our primary core business and we will still maintain that as our priority, this is just something else that we can provide to the community,” he said.

“We provide so much to the community that is a lot more than just a fire service. This is a very clear, very public demonstration of that. It’s just a good fit.”

Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker added the program was already well-established at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. – Joel Peterson

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