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How Dublin Fire Brigade has made our city one of the safest in the world

DUBLIN Fire Brigade emergency crews have made the city one of the safest places on earth to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Richard Hedderman said Dublin ranks alongside Winnipeg in Canada, with the fastest response times for getting paramedic care to victims.

The city's fire and ambulance service is being improved to counter a whole range of risks and dangers as it celebrates its 150th anniversary this weekend.

Mr Hedderman (54) said there are 125 emergency personnel on duty in the city at any time. Heart attack or stroke victims can get help in as little as three to five minutes.

More than 800 firefighters are employed and they also fulfil ambulance duties. There are 30 advanced paramedics who can intubate airways, insert IV lines, and give certain drugs at the scene of an incident.

Ambulances dispatched to road crashes are usually accompanied by a fire engine which will have an advanced paramedic on board. The overall result has been many more lives are being saved than in the past, he said.

The fire service is also working to prevent loss of life by training sports clubs and other organisation in the use of AED defibrillators, which enable victims to be resuscitated.

Mr Hedderman said brigade members can can feel justifiably proud of 150 years service to the people of the city.

In recent years there have been many innovations in training to enable crews to tackle a wider range of situations.

These include:

•Swift Water Rescues, which enable specially trained personnel to save the lives of people who fall or jump into rivers;

•High Line Rescues -- these involve trained crews with the capability of going to the assistance of people such as crane operators taken ill in their cabs more than 100ft above the ground. Crews are trained to remove a victim and lower them to the ground to get medical help;

n Tunnel rescues -- with the opening of the Port Tunnel, more than 200 staff have undergone training in Switzerland for fighting blazes in road tunnels. "Our workforce is very flexible and very proud of their role. We also have major emergency frameworks involving other agencies which allow us to meet major challenges," Mr Hedderman said.

He spent several years in the frontline of fighting fires and medical emergencies before rising into senior leadership roles.

"Through all the years, the most upsetting part of our job has been responding to accidents involving the death of a child. It is always very difficult. But also, the successful rescue of a child or being able to save someone and see them being able to walk around later is a great source of satisfaction," he said.

Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague presented 150th anniversary commemoration medals to 700 fire brigade staff last night.

The Lord Mayor told the Herald: "We need to remember the bravery and commitment of the people in Dublin's fire service over the past 150 years.

"It's a very tough and demanding job when they put their lives at risk and I would like to thank them for that on behalf of all the people of Dublin."