Every Merseyside Fire and Rescue crew will now be equipped with life-saving defibrillators following a major investment made by councillors on the local fire authority.
The automatic defibrillators will be installed at the 26 stations, operational fire engines and all other fire service buildings across Merseyside – and are used as a measure to prevent a cardiac arrest.
The machine administers an electric shock which allows the heart to start rhythmically, contracting again in the event of a life-threatening heart attack.
The British Heart Foundation and Fire authority chairman, Cllr Dave Hanratty, are reported to have been to main financiers in securing the purchase of these machines, which cost around £700 each.
The life-saving machines are also the main focus of the Oliver King Foundation, a campaign set up in memory of the 12-year-old schoolboy who died while swimming at the pool at King David High School in March 2011. The campaign has since been at the centre of a row with the government over the lack of defibrillators provided in schools.
Karl Mansfield, Corporate Communications officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue distanced the introduction of these machines from the campaign.
He told JMU Journalism: “The introduction of the defibrillators at our stations and on our appliances is completely separate to the Oliver King Foundation and its work, however the Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Dave Hanratty, is a supporter of the foundation.”
He continued: “It’s a matter for the Government what they decide to do, but it is an important step for the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and it’s important that we protect our staff and the public.”
According to statistics from the British Heart Foundation, between 2008 and 2010, 1,679 people in Liverpool died of heart disease, but fire-fighters have already used these machines to save lives across the region.
Fire-fighters from Croxteth managed to revive a 17-year-old woman who had collapsed using a defibrillator in 2010, stabilising her pulse before the paramedics arrived.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “Although we have defibrillators at some locations there is not one on every community fire station and we wanted to change that to help our communities.”