Photo: St Arnaud CFA Brigade, including Deputy Group Officer Craig Cheesman (middle) who was saved using a CFA defibrillator when his heart stopped during a group training exercise three years ago.
Victoria’s volunteer firefighters and the communities we serve will be even better protected while training and responding to emergencies thanks to generous community donations that will enable a defibrillator to be installed on every CFA brigade and group vehicle.
Thanks to community donations to the CFA & Brigades Donations Fund and the CFA Public Fund, $2.543 million will be allocated to purchase over 1,130 defibrillators to ensure that by mid-2022 every CFA brigade and group vehicle will have a dedicated defibrillator onboard.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it’s important our members are prepared for any emergency and having these important life-saving devices available on every CFA vehicle will improve the safety of both firefighters and community members at incidents.
St Arnaud volunteer firefighter and Deputy Group Officer Craig Cheesman knows only too well the difference the important life-saving equipment can make.
Three years ago, his heart stopped during a group training exercise in Gre Gre between Horsham and Bendigo.
Thankfully, every brigade in CFA’s District 16 had been equipped with a defibrillator through a State Government Enhancing Volunteerism Grant, which allowed his fellow members to jump into action and restart his heart.
“I wouldn’t be here today if there hadn’t been a defibrillator there, so to think that every CFA brigade and group vehicle will soon have one is just amazing,” he said.
The quick action has allowed Craig to make a full recovery and he remains an operational firefighter and Deputy Group Officer.
"Because they did such a good job, that's what got us through. I was lucky, really."
It’s not the only life saved by CFA defibrillators and the actions of CFA members; In November 2019, a CFA crew was on deployment to the NSW fires when they saved the life of a NSW Rural Fire Service firefighter and in February 2021, fellow firefighters saved Spring Hill Captain Scott Selle’s life after he went into cardiac arrest while responding to a Glenlyon fire.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said the incidents illustrated the importance of CFA members being well prepared and equipped if a cardiac emergency occurs.
“Having this important life-saving equipment available on every CFA vehicle will improve the safety of both firefighters and community members at incidents and during training exercises,” he said.
“Our members are volunteers who give up their time to help keep their communities safe and I’m so pleased that with the support of the community’s generous donations, CFA is able to do its part in keeping them as safe as possible.
CFA & Brigades Donations Fund Chair Graeme Jilbert said all funds donated are allocated to benefit volunteers and the community, and in line with suggestions and requests from members.
“People donating to CFA want the money to be spent where they make a difference to our hard-working volunteers and our communities,” he said.
“We are so grateful and humbled by the community’s support which means our members are now further protected as a result of these additional defibrillators.”
||CFA News & Media