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Scottish Fire and Rescue Services Pleads to Treat Heart Attack Patients

Lives could be saved if firefighters were allowed to treat people who suffer heart attacks at the scene, according to a leading fire inspector.

Steven Torrie, the chief inspector within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), has said they should be entrusted to carry out emergency medical care.

His proposals mirror procedures in Seattle, where 40 per cent of those who suffer a heart attack in the street are saved, largely due to intervention from the fire service.

The survival rate for Scotland is just four per cent, one of the worst in Europe.

Mr Torrie argued that Scottish fire crews are more community-based, meaning they would be able to attend heart attacks quicker than ambulances ‘nine times out of ten’.

He said: “[Firefighters] are trained and they can be trained further. They have hundreds of defibrillator devices between them and they could contribute in a big way.

“It could make a big difference to Scotland’s health.”

Scottish ministers have announced plans to save 1,000 lives from out-of-hospital heart attacks by 2020, including providing a further 500,000 firefighters with CPR skills and more random access defibrillators.

However, Stephen Thomson, of the Fire Brigades Union, warned that if allowed to assist paramedics then firefighters could be faced with medical emergencies beyond their training.

He said: “I was given the anecdotal example of a crew who were turned out for a call that they realised was not for a cardiac arrest but for a diabetic coma.

“Firefighters do not have the expertise to deal with it.”