Emergency medical response now delivered by all integrated CFA stations

Residents in Wangaratta and Wodonga will benefit from a co-responder initiative between Victoria’s fire services and Ambulance Victoria to improve out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates.


From 9 October 2018, CFA career firefighters from the Wangaratta and Wodonga Fire Brigades will deliver Emergency Medical Response (EMR) aimed at increasing potentially life-saving medical assistance at the scene of emergency medical incidents.

They are among 40 CFA brigades helping to protect more Victorian lives by responding to life-threatening medical emergencies alongside Ambulance Victoria paramedics. 

The State Government has provided $46.7 million in funding to implement the EMR program at all integrated CFA brigades over a four-year period from 2015.

CFA Operations Manager Stewart Kreltszheim said the program means firefighters and paramedics are dispatched at the same time to treat unconscious, non-breathing or pulseless patients.

As a result, it will become more common to see both a fire truck and an ambulance at life-threatening medical emergencies in Wangaratta and Wodonga.

“By working together we have a better chance of saving someone’s life,” Mr Kreltszheim said.

“Our message to the public is: Firefighters take on many and varied roles so don’t be surprised if a firefighter arrives at your door in the event of a life-threatening medical emergency and do not turn them away. Every second counts in emergencies.”

Ambulance Victoria Acting Regional Director Matt Chadban said the program was the result of a successful pilot and was already well-established at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

“In a cardiac arrest, what you do before emergency services arrive can greatly improve the chance of someone’s survival,” Mr Chadban said.

“Call Triple Zero for assistance and listen carefully to the call taker who can provide instructions for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Any CPR is better than no CPR.

“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.”

Today’s announcement means that all of CFA’s 36 integrated stations, and three volunteer brigades, are EMR-capable. Lucas fire station in Ballarat is also EMR capable.

Author: Liselotte Geary