Every fire engine in Surrey has been fitted with a defibrillator to help firefighters save more lives at the scene of emergencies.
Surrey County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service has equipped its entire 35-strong fleet with defibrillators to enable crews who are first on the scene to treat casualties suffering a cardiac arrest.
At the same time, more than 180 Surrey firefighters have been given extra training to improve the care they can give to casualties facing life-threatening illness and injuries.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service worked closely with South East Coast Ambulance Service to develop the course, known as Immediate Emergency Care Responder training.
The new equipment and training will help ensure that casualties at the scene of fires or road accidents are treated as quickly as possible, potentially saving many more lives.
Surrey County Council Leader David Hodge is backing the project with £150,000 of funding.
He said: ‘I am pleased to be supporting this important initiative which will make our county an even safer place to live in and visit.
‘Working with the South East Coast Ambulance Service we are helping to ensure that our firefighters can respond to the public’s needs in the most efficient and effective way possible.’
Russell Pearson, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: ‘Our firefighters are now in a better position to serve the community and every second is vital in situations where a patient suffers a cardiac arrest or stops breathing.
‘By giving firefighters extra training and first aid equipment, including defibrillators on every fire engine, we will improve the care we can give in emergency situations and make a real difference to a casualty’s chances of survival.
‘In future we are planning to increase the availability of defibrillators in the community by locating public access defibrillators on the outside of all Surrey fire stations.’
Defibrillators work by delivering an electric shock through the chest in an attempt to restore normal heart rhythm.
Every minute that passes without defibrillation, a patient’s chances of survival decrease by 10%.
The life-saving kit now being carried by fire engines also includes cervical collars for spinal injury patients and treatments to stop severe bleeding.
Other fire service response vehicles also carry the equipment, including defibrillators, further increasing the service’s life-saving capabilities.
John Griffiths, head of operational support at South East Coast Ambulance Service, said: ‘SECAmb has been working closely with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to design and deliver training to its staff. This initiative will maximise the opportunities to save lives and minimise the impact of injuries on the community.’