Operations Manager Tony O’Day is head of the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) Emergency Medical Response (EMR) and Wellbeing team. In this episode, Tony explains the role of EMR and the wellbeing programs that CFA has introduced to manage the health and well-being of first responders and other CFA members.
Tony has held a variety of state and field-based positions during his career, including a stint as the Victorian Fire Services Liaison Officer for Victoria Police in the Counter-Terrorism Coordination and Emergency Management Department.
What is Emergency Medical Response?
When an EMR event occurs, both Ambulance Victoria (AV) and CFA resources are dispatched to the Emergency. These emergencies are classified as Priority Zero events, which in the main involves people who are suffering potential cardiac arrest. According to CFA the “The primary aim of the EMR program is to reduce response time to cardiac arrest patients with a longer-term aim of improving survival outcomes“. EMR means that patients can get access to early CPR and early defibrillation which increases survivability.
When did Emergency Medical Response start in Victoria?
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade began EMR in 2001. CFA commenced EMR in 2008 as part of a trial involving five volunteer brigades. The program has since been extended to CFA’s Integrated brigades.
CFAs Mental Health Programs
The introduction of EMR has caused CFA to have a greater focus on managing mental health. CFA members have access to a range of mental health services including:
- Peer Program- psychological first aid (PFA) and personal support provided by trained CFA peers for personal or CFA-related issues.
- Chaplaincy Program- On-site and off-site non-denominational pastoral care support through an external provider.
- Member Assistance Program- Professional, confidential counselling through an external provider for personal or CFA-related issues.
External Mental Health Service:
- Lifeline 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
- Beyondblue 1300 22 4636 or www.beyondblue.org.au
- Black Dog Institute www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
CFA has recently introduced bystander training to help EMR first responders manage and assist people who may be present at an incident scene.
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