Traralgon firies ready for a rapid response

When calling Triple Zero for medical assistance one expects to be greeted by an ambulance, but Traralgon residents may instead be attended to by firefighters.

It’s not a mix-up of emergency services, but rather an initiative aimed at cutting emergency response times.

Since Monday Traralgon’s career firefighters have been dispatched to respond to Triple Zero calls for heart attack and non-breathing patients at the same time as local paramedics, as part of the Emergency Medical Response Program.

With its career firefighters receiving specialist training from Ambulance Victoria and emergency medical equipment on board its trucks, Traralgon is now one of 15 Country Fire Authority fire stations providing EMR. In the case of a medical emergency, firefighters are able to administer CPR and basic life support until paramedics arrive.

Traralgon Leading Firefighter Scott Pollerd told The Express with a 90 second turn-out time, firefighters were often first on scene at an incident.

“Firefighters providing EMR allows for quick intervention of life threatening conditions,” Mr Pollerd said.

“And we know that the earlier CPR is performed, the higher the survival rates.”

Ambulance Victoria EMR CFA paramedic educator Mike Williams said a dual response from firefighters and paramedics for cardiac arrest and respiratory emergencies would benefit community and emergency responders alike.

He said it was important for the community to be aware firefighters may attend a medical response, but rest assured an ambulance was still on its way.

Metropolitan fire brigades have been providing first responder services since 2000 and the State Government is rolling out the EMR program across its 35 integrated fire stations.

Morwell is expected to provide EMR early next year.

Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said the program would help “deliver faster emergency medical response times for these growing communities and help save lives”.

Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy said in a life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, every second counted.

In medical emergencies, people are still advised to dial Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.