The Vancouver Firefighters CPR + First-aid Program was established in 1997 to provide life-saving CPR training to the public as a joint project between Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services and the International Association of Firefighters Union Local 18. It is managed and run entirely by professional firefighters during their off-duty hours.
Evidence shows that in medical emergencies, the actions taken by ordinary people before the fire department or ambulance arrive are more important than any other medical treatment the person may receive. When a person has a heart attack, their body tissues stop getting any oxygen. After just a few minutes without oxygen the body tissues go into distress and start to die, particularly the heart and brain. If nobody at the scene starts CPR right away, even if the person survives they will probably have permanent brain damage.
CPR (even just 'chest-compressions only') circulates oxygen to the heart muscle and brain to maintain the tissues until the heart can be re-started by more advanced medical care. Our own statistics, collected in the City of Vancouver, show that if a person receives bystander CPR when they have a heart attack the chances of their heart having a 'shockable rhythm' are approximately doubled. When dealing with heart attacks, any increase to survival statistics translates directly to lives saved.
By training as many people as possible in CPR, we hope to increase the survival rates for anyone who has a medical emergency like a heart attack or stroke.
Vancouver Firefighters CPR courses are taught by active professional firefighters who are certified to teach first-aid, and average 10 - 15 years of experience . Although the program is sponsored in part by Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services and our instructors wear their station uniforms, all of our courses are taught by firefighters who are off-duty.
The advantage of learning CPR from firefighters is that we use the skills we will be teaching you every day. VF&RS responds to over 22,000 medical emergencies each year.
We are most active in Vancouver high schools where we certify over 2,000 grade 10 students every year. We also provide training to the Vancouver School Board faculty and staff. In addition to high schools, we also present a custom 'introduction to handling emergencies' course to many grade 6 elementary students.
We are active in giving back to the community, especially in helping those who would not otherwise have access to first-aid training. We instruct courses for many organizations in the downtown eastside of Vancouver as well as many other public service organizations. Since 2007 we have been presenting a special 'emergency' course for grade 6 students in Vancouver elementary schools at no cost. In addition to teaching, we also provide free blood-pressure screening and heart disease awareness information at many sporting and community events.