31 Oct 2013

Firefighters to go to more medical calls

1:30 pm on 31 October 2013

More firefighters will be on standby to answer emergency medical calls under an agreement between the fire and ambulance services.

Rural firefighters and some urban brigades already attend a variety of 111 medical callouts and the Fire Service says the review is aimed at a more consistent approach to its response to those calls.

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Photo: RNZ

St John head of planning and service development Peter Tranter says the review means all the country's firefighters will be able to respond to cardiac and respiratory arrests and could provide CPR before paramedics arrive.

Mr Tranter says it is not that the ambulance service does not have the resources to attend every incident, but time is critical for the average of 18 cardiac arrest patients every day.

Sometimes a firefighting team will be closer than an ambulance, he says.

Mr Tranter says the change should improve survival rates.

Once consultation with fire and ambulance staff has taken place, the changes will be formalised and trialled in Auckland.

A prototype fire and medical response vehicle is also about to be unveiled.