SINCE September 2015 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has been responding to cardiac arrest incidents to complement the expert service provided by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) colleagues.
Between September 2015 and August 2016 GMFRS attended almost 3,000 cardiac arrests alongside NWAS. This approach enables firefighters to begin basic life support on those occasions where they arrive at a cardiac arrest before paramedics. Where paramedics are already in attendance firefighters can support providing basic life support to allow paramedics to focus on more specialist interventions to try to help victims to survive.
GMFRS is the only fire and rescue service in the country where all frontline fire engines respond to cardiac arrests alongside the ambulance service. This would not have been possible without the positive relationship between the two emergency services and representative bodies.
This operational success features in ‘Resuscitation to Recovery: A National Framework to improve care of people with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in England’. Published today (Monday, March 6), this national strategy developed by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives sets out how it intends to improve outcomes for those that suffer a cardiac arrest in England.
GMFRS Assistant County Fire Officer and Director of Prevention and Protection, Geoff Harris said: “The number of cardiac arrest incidents we have supported our NWAS colleagues with is very encouraging.
“Working in partnership with NWAS on the Survival Academy Network will enable us to build on this and help to create a nation of lifesavers.
“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that whenever a cardiac arrest occurs, someone is there that knows how to call for help, how to perform CPR, knows where the nearest PAD is and is able to use it to give the casualty the best possible chance of survival’. Colleagues in some parts of Europe and North America have been doing this for years and survival rates are far higher than they are in Greater Manchester. I want to see our survival rates match and hopefully exceed those elsewhere in the world.”
Existing work between NWAS and GMFRS supports the delivery of the strategy through a local Survival Academy Network, which has three key aims – to improve the health and wellbeing of the region’s residents; to increase cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) awareness and to increase the ownership of public access defibrillators (PADs).
GMFRS firefighters currently train alongside NWAS paramedics to perform high performance CPR and early defibrillation, providing the best possible chances of survival.
Consultant Paramedic, Dan Smith comments: “Fire crews on scene can provide the essential basic life support for the patient by providing CPR and using a defibrillator, allowing NWAS clinicians to manage other elements of patient care, such as advanced airway management and the administration of intravenous drugs.
“NWAS staff have reported that having fire crews with them in these life-threatening situations gives them additional support and is of great benefit to the patient and their families. Fire crews have also reported that they feel their help is appreciated and there is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that they may have played a part in saving a life.
“In Greater Manchester, the ambulance service receives approximately ten emergency calls for suspected cardiac arrests per day and utilising the skills of trained firefighters undoubtedly can improve the outcome for many of those patients.
“The chances of survival from cardiac arrest diminish rapidly with every passing second so the sooner someone can receive treatment, the greater their chances are of leading a full and healthy life afterwards. It doesn’t matter who gives that treatment – whether it is a member of the public, an ambulance crew or a fire crew so the more resources that are available to respond, the better for those who suffer this potentially devastating condition.”
Through its safe and well visits GMFRS staff are already helping to improve the health and wellbeing of residents across Greater Manchester; including their cardiac health.
NWAS and GMFRS staff also share their knowledge by teaching their businesses, young people and the wider community CPR, and how to use PADs through school visits and open days and very soon through the GMFRS safety centre at Bury. GMFRS staff are also encouraging businesses to improve the availability of PADS. This year GMFRS will provide at all of its sites.