Fire service first on the scene to deal with heart attacks

Fire and Rescue crews from Coldstream, Hawick and Lauder have been selected to take part in a pilot scheme to respond to 999 cardiac arrest calls.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is supporting the Scottish Government’s Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) Strategy which aims to improve survival rates for those who experience a cardiac arrest.

Approximately 3,500 people a year undergo attempted resuscitation outside a hospital environment but only around 1 in 20 survive.

Mobilising fire and rescue crews where they can be in attendance before the Scottish Ambulance Service is one of the ways being tried to improve those figures. An ambulance will still attend but if fire personnel can get there quicker and use their defibrillator equipment the patient should stand a better chance of surviving.

The Resuscitation Council (UK) advises that for every minute of delay, the chances of successful defibrillation decrease by about 10% and recommends strongly a policy of attempting defibrillation with the minimum of delay in victims of cardiac arrest.

Reporting to the Borders Safer Communities Board, Alasdair Perry, local senior officer for SFRSF, said: “Collaborative work with the Ambulance Service has identified the following fire stations as suitable locations for the pilot in the Scottish Borders - Hawick, Coldstream and Lauder. There shall be a six month review period during which it is anticipated that additional stations will be brought into the pilot.

“Training of personnel at the identified stations will begin in 2015 with a view to the pilot going live in October 2015. I am delighted this area will participate in a pilot for a project that in my opinion can only lead to increased safety for people in the Borders.