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MFB firefighters attending increasing number of medical calls

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26 Feb 2015
If you’ve called an ambulance and a fire truck arrives first the MFB has an important message for you: Don’t turn them away.

For more than 15 years MFB firefighters have been dispatched to Emergency Medical Response (EMR) calls at the same time as Ambulance Victoria to attend cardiac arrests and non-breathing patients.

A study of the 2013 to 2014 call logs by municipality shows a jump of almost 18 per cent in the number of EMR calls on the previous 12 months.

However, too often fire crews are being delayed or turned away by people who think they have been misdirected or are looking for a different emergency.

“Our firefighters have helped to save more than 200 lives through this service, but it is still a surprise for a lot of people when they see a fire truck pull up,” MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau said.

“If a fire truck arrives first, the crew immediately initiates medical assistance and continues until Ambulance Victoria paramedics arrive to take over. It’s all part of what’s known as the Chain of Survival.”

Thanks to specialist training by Monash University, all MFB firefighters are able to provide basic life support, give CPR and use the defibrillators carried on all fire trucks.

Firefighters provide a vital component in ensuring patient survival and the service is an important example of how emergency services can complement each other’s roles in preserving life.

MFB is currently conducting a community awareness campaign to promote EMR, as any time lost managing that confusion can be a life and death difference.

“When a person is experiencing cardiac arrest or is not breathing, the promptness of the medical response is paramount to survival,” Mr Rau said.

“Cardiac arrest survivability diminishes by 10 per cent for every minute that defibrillation is delayed. Whatever you do, don’t send the firefighters away if they are trying to help.”


Below are the EMR calls attended to, by Local Government Area.
  2013 2014 + or -
Banyule 170 175 2.9%
Bayside 131 152 16%
Boroondara 182 210 15.4%
Brimbank 402 493 22.6%
Darebin 270 342 26.6%
Glen Eira 187 213 1.39%
Greater Dandenong 0 2 -
Hobsons Bay 151 182 20.5%
Hume 193 226 17.1%
Kingston 155 174 12.3%
Manningham 123 152 23.5%
Maribyrnong 158 191 20.9%
Maroondah 171 179 4.7%
Melbourne 259 290 11.9%
Monash 248 306 23.4%
Moonee Valley 202 242 19.8%
Moreland 268 351 30.9%
Nillumbik 1 0 -
Port Phillp 216 233 7.9%
Stonnington 142 197 38.8%
Whitehorse 226 261 15.5%
Whittlesea 177 182 2.8%
Wyndham 13 5 -61.5%
Yarra 247 300 21.5%
Yarra Ranges 15 12 -20%
Total EMR Calls* 4307 5070 +17.8%



* This table does not include the 2,600 calls MFB responded to in 2014 that were downgraded before crews arrived on scene

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