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Elgin firefighters to act as paramedics if ambulances are busy

Moray fire services have been trained in dealing with cardiac arrest with a defibrillator.
Moray fire services have been trained in dealing with cardiac arrest with a defibrillator.

Firefighters in Moray’s biggest town will now be deployed to treat casualties at serious road accidents when ambulance crews are busy.

The initiative was launched yesterday at Elgin Fire Station, where 30 crew members recently underwent rigorous medical training.

Scottish fire chiefs have argued the groundbreaking scheme “will save lives” in the area.

Keiran McKandie: ‘Emergency services system failed my son’ says mum

The scheme will see firefighters called upon to use defibrillators and CPR techniques on injured people when they are closer to the scene of an accident than the nearest ambulance.

The new tactic follows calls for changes after 16-year-old cyclist Keiran McKandie was fatally struck by a car on the outskirts of Elgin and emergency crews took 30 minutes to arrive.

Keiran’s mum, Sandra McKandie, said her heartbreak was compounded when she learned that the town’s firefighters were not called out to offer assistance instead of paramedics.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “It isn’t acceptable to have expertise in Elgin and not have it deployed to something nearby while patients have to wait for an ambulance to arrive from miles away.”

At the end of March, paramedics began training firefighters at the Elgin station to ensure they were able to respond effectively to emergencies.

And local senior officer, David Rout, announced the new strategy yesterday, following the completion of the six-week process.

Grieving mum wants firefighters deployed if ambulances are busy

Mr Rout said: “There will always be five or six well-trained people on standby at the station at any given time.

“This is a team approach across the services, and it is a lifesaving development which will increase survival rates across the Grampian area.

“We won’t be replacing ambulance crews, but we will be mobilised when we are the nearest available emergency response team to any incident which could involve someone suffering cardiac arrest.”

Elgin is one of 15 stations across Scotland where the new approach is being put through a trial process.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service added: “Co-responding initiatives with the fire service will enable us to save even more lives.

“This is a major opportunity to further enhance our productive relationship with a partner agency, and positively impact on patient outcomes.

“This network of co-responders will complement our highly skilled team of technicians, paramedics and specialist paramedics across Scotland.”

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