Local firefighters are to be trained to respond to medical emergencies including heart attacks in a bid to support the local ambulance service and improve survival rates.
The scheme will be piloted in Hawick, Lauder and Coldstream and the Hawick News undestands that training for Borders firefighters will begin next month and it will be given by Scottish Ambulance Service staff.
Emergency cardiac arrest calls are currently sent directly to the local ambulance service.
Plans to have firefighters responding to cardiac arrests were first mooted earlier this year when the brigade’s chief inspector, Steve Torrie, told MSPs that the fire service was more than capable of helping out in medical emergency situations and that firefighters trained in resuscitation could often arrive on-scene faster, saving lives.
In May, Mr Torrie told Holyrood politicians: “We think that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service could make a very big difference.
“Nine times out of ten we will get there first.”
And he compared the survival rate of those suffering a cardiac arrest in the street in Scotland, which currently stands at four per cent, among the worst in Europe, to those in the American city of Seattle where an incredible 40 per cent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest in public are saved, partly thanks to fire teams responding to such incidents.
Local fire station commander Russell Bell told the Hawick News that training will begin soon and that it will be closely monitored
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service realise as a public service that we need to diversify and innovate as the needs of our communities come sharper into focus.
“One of these focus areas is out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, where the survival rate is very low if no immediate assistance is available.
“Hawick has been chosen, following guidance from the Scottish Ambulance Service, as a suitable location to trial the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s out-of-hospital cardiac arrest response.
“Crews will, in the coming months, receive enhanced training from Scottish Ambulance Service partners which will allow a response to local cardiac arrest emergencies.
Mr Bell added: “It is a trial, which will be closely, and very positively, monitored and supported by both the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service, with a view to en-hancing the emergency response to our local communities.”