Denman volunteer ambulance unit set to 'go live'

Published: 1st June 2017

Emergency response resources in the Denman region are set to be enhanced with the launch of NSW Ambulance’s 57th Volunteer Ambulance Officer and Community First Responder (VCFR) unit.

The Denman unit, which is specifically a CFR unit, will “go live” at 8am this Saturday, June 3, when volunteers will be ready to respond to Triple Zero (000) calls and provide first aid care, prior to the arrival of NSW Ambulance paramedics.

The 12-person unit will be staffed entirely by retained Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters, 10 from Denman Fire Station and two from Branxton Fire Station.

The “go live” status will be preceded by a graduation of CFRs, to be held at Denman tomorrow, Friday, with special guests including Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen.

The firefighters will graduate as Certificate 2 Emergency Medical Service - First Responders.

NSW Ambulance Manager of Volunteer and Community First Responders, Superintendent Susan Webster, said Volunteer Ambulance Officer (VAO) and CFR units were located in remote and rural locations to provide initial management of patients until paramedics arrive.

“The units respond to major motor vehicle accidents and rural and farm incidents, as well as provide up-to-date emergency care for medical incidents including chest pain, breathing difficulties, asthma, stroke and diabetes,” she said.

“The volunteers will provide a situation report of any major incident which will be conveyed directly to NSW Ambulance for the dispatch of necessary clinical paramedic resources.”

FRNSW Central West Zone Commander, Superintendent Brett Jackson, said the graduating firefighters would further improve emergency response resources in Denman.

“In areas where VCFRs operate, our firefighters are often first on the scene at medical emergencies and with this additional training they now have the skills and equipment to provide life-saving intervention,” he said.

“This program is already helping to save lives in other remote and rural areas across NSW and we’re proud to see Denman Fire Station become the 57th VCFR unit.”

Mr Johnsen praised the dedication of the volunteers. “Our first responders are our front line and our volunteers are saving lives. We appreciate their efforts and applaud their commitment to our community,” he said.

Supt Webster said the newly-inducted CFR volunteers will be assets to their community. “These volunteers have been really active in trying to get their unit up and running. They will be incredible assets, helping to reduce the emergency response times in remote locations.

“NSW Ambulance would also like to thank the families and employers of these volunteers for supporting their involvement.”

CFR volunteers do not replace paramedics, rather they enhance the patient response, providing a first response to patients in an out-of-hospital environment in the vital minutes until paramedics arrive. “This is particularly the case for cardiac arrest patients where precious seconds count and early access to CPR and defibrillation improves a patient’s chances of survival,” Supt Webster said.

She added that VAOs and CFRs are accredited and operate under NSW Ambulance governance and training. The majority respond under a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the State Emergency Service, the Rural Fire Service, and FRNSW.