Devices aim to save lives

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter

A piece of equipment that could be the “difference between life and death” for frontline firefighters will be one of the concerns addressed at a meeting this month.

The June 24 meeting between major stakeholders DFES, WALGA, the SES Volunteer Association and the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades was sparked by the results of an online survey about crew safety.

AVBFB executive officer Darren Brown last week launched a survey asking firefighters if their brigade vehicles were equipped with defibrillators and whether they believed the devices were needed.

The majority did not have defibrillators and the few that did had either been gifted the device or fundraised to buy their own.

More than 98 per cent of respondents across 66 brigades believed all firefighting vehicles should be equipped with the devices.

The automatically-operated defibrillators can be used by non-medical personnel and Mr Brown believes they “could be the difference between life and death” at the frontlines of a blaze.

“The amazing women and men of WA’s Volunteer Bush Fire Service often work in off-road environments that ambulances simply can’t access,” Mr Brown said.

“We think having these small, cheap life-saving devices on board every white and gold truck is a no-brainer.”

Mr Brown said the association has been working with the State Government to deliver more transparency, accountability and equity in the way the Emergency Services Levy is used.

DFES assistant commissioner asset management Brad Delavale said funding for items through the levy needed to follow strict definitions laid out in the Local Government Grant Scheme manual.

The manual classifies defibrillators as a non-eligible item for volunteer bushfire brigades.

However, the manual allows brigades to purchase replacement pads and batteries for defibrillators they have bought themselves.

“From initial survey results conducted by the AVBFB, we can see defibrillators are considered a requirement by bushfire brigades,” Mr Delavale said.

“After these preliminary discussions I am keen to explore funding options for required items such as defibrillators through the grants scheme and other avenues.

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