Wigan firefighters have come to the aid of more than 250 suspected cardiac arrest victims since an initiative to give them medical life-saving skills was launched.
The initiative between Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) was launched in August and means firefighters are contacted when a suspected cardiac arrest is reported within three miles of their station.
With every passing second the chances of survival from cardiac arrest diminish rapidly, so the sooner a patient can receive treatment, the greater their chances are of leading a full and healthy life afterwardsAndrew Redgrave
Fire crews would then be able administer life-saving first aid if they arrived before paramedics, who then take over and take the patient to hospital once they are stable.
The initiative aims to ensure patients whose hearts have stopped pumping blood around the body because of an abnormal rhythm - receive treatment as quickly as possible as mere minutes can make all the difference.
Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show that between September 2015 and June 2016, firefighters in Wigan were called to 259 suspected cardiac arrests, although this does not mean they arrived before paramedics.
This is the second highest figure in Greater Manchester, second only to central Manchester where crews were called to 407 suspected cardiac arrests.
Bolton and Salford came third and fourth with 207 and 2102 respectively while Bury firefighters received the least calls at 128. The chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Coun David Acton, said: “The initiative has allowed us to build on our partnership with NWAS and it has proved to be a real success.
“Responding to cardiac arrests is now part of the daily routine of firefighters in Greater Manchester and they are able to use their training, skills and experience to support paramedics and perform CPR to give a casualty the best possible chance of survival.
“That’s what this is all about – it’s about saving lives but it’s also about giving people the best chance of survival.
“We hope to build on this success in the future and over the next year we will be working with NWAS colleagues to promote the importance of CPR to the public and provide training opportunities to encourage as many people as possible to learn potentially lifesaving techniques.”
The scheme is now being rolled out in other areas of the country.
North West Ambulance Service’s Andrew Redgrave, Regional Community Engagement Manager, said: “This scheme has already proved to be an excellent collaboration between NWAS and GMFRS since it was introduced last August.
“The feedback we have received from our staff has been extremely positive and it’s great to work with our fire service colleagues who are always so professional when responding alongside our ambulance crews to patients suspected of having a cardiac arrest.
“With every passing second the chances of survival from cardiac arrest diminish rapidly, so the sooner a patient can receive treatment, the greater their chances are of leading a full and healthy life afterwards.
“This is why the partnership with the Fire Service is working so well as their advanced training and ability to respond on blue lights enables them to arrive more quickly to a situation where every second really can mean the difference between life and death.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership working that has already been so beneficial to many of our patients, as together we can help to save more lives in the future.”