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CPR saves ironman

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16 May 2016
Cameron McFarlane counts himself a lucky man.

The 43-year-old was enjoying a meal with his wife at a Bentleigh East cafe in August last year when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Bystanders immediately called Triple Zero [000] and started CPR.

He is living proof that early CPR can save lives.

This month the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Ambulance Victoria are launching a new community awareness campaign about the importance of early CPR and the first responder role played by firefighters in support of paramedics.

Since 2000, MFB firefighters have played a vital role in supporting Melbourne’s pre-hospital emergency medical services system and are trained to provide unconscious, non-breathing and pulseless patients with Basic Life Support care until an ambulance arrives.

As part of the service, when a priority zero medical emergency occurs, the nearest ambulance and MFB fire truck are dispatched.

MFB Chief Executive Officer Jim Higgins said, despite the service being almost two decades old, there are still instances where members of the public are unaware of the assistance firefighters can provide.

“Last year MFB firefighters attended almost 5,000 emergency medical response calls right across Melbourne,’’ he said.

“There are more than 1,600 MFB firefighters trained who provide Basic Life Support care until paramedics arrive on scene and 67 fire trucks equipped with an oxygen resuscitation kit, comprehensive first aid kit and a semi-automatic defibrillator .

“If you call Triple Zero for assistance listen carefully to the call taker who can provide instructions for first aid and CPR. If a fire truck arrives first, don’t turn them away. They are there to help save lives.”

Ambulance Victoria Acting General Manager Emergency Operations Mick Stephenson said in a cardiac arrest any CPR is better than none.

“What you do before emergency services arrive can greatly improve the chances of someone’s survival,” Mr Stephenson said.

“Early CPR provides blood flow to a person’s brain and vital organs and means they have a better chance of survival when medical help arrives. Early bystander defibrillation through the use of Public Access Defibrillators increases the chance of survival even further.

“Emergency Medical Response is a collaborative program between Ambulance Victoria and MFB designed to strengthen the chain of survival, which we know improves survival from cardiac arrest.”

Cameron McFarlane said he will be “eternally grateful” for the assistance of bystanders, firefighters and paramedics who responded on the day he collapsed.

“Before the cardiac arrest I was training for my first ironman event,” he said.

“I had to cut back on my training but am now building it up again and hope to participate in an ironman in 2017.

“My family and I will be eternally grateful to the patrons in the café and the first responders who saved my life.”

From 1 June, you can pick up a brochure at more than 400 doctor’s surgeries across Melbourne explaining the Emergency Medical Response program.

You can also learn more about Emergency Medical Response at .

You can learn more about CPR at

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