Cabbies enlisted to become emergency lifesavers

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TAXI drivers in a Yorkshire city have joined forces with ambulance chiefs in the first life-saving scheme of its kind in England.

Ten staff from Fleetways Taxis in York have become community first responders who provide immediate life-saving care to people who have suffered heart attacks, breathing difficulties or a collapse in the vital minutes before the ambulance arrives.

Training has included cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, the use of a defibrillator which delivers an electric shock to restart the heart, and drivers will also carry and administer oxygen. A defibrillator will also be available at the Fleetways Taxi base next to York station.

The partnership has provided the opportunity for ambulance chiefs to trial new technology for community responders triggering quicker responses to 999 calls.

Paul Stevens, locality manager for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) community resilience team, said: “Community first responders make a valuable contribution to their communities and we are delighted to welcome the drivers of Fleetways Taxis to our team in York.

“We know that in many medical emergencies the first few minutes are critical. If effective treatment can be performed within those first minutes, lives can be saved and disability reduced.

“Taxi drivers are situated in the city centre, work a wide range of hours and are mobile across a large area of the locality. This means they could be very well-placed to respond to an emergency situation and help us to save lives at any time, day or night.”

Stewart Arnott, finance director of Fleetways, added: “It was only when Fleetways really needed a qualified first aider on hand and we didn’t have one available that we realised we could make a difference if we trained more staff and drivers in first aid.

“A driver from another taxi firm pulled up outside our base during the morning rush last summer and called for help; he had a suspected cardiac arrest and we helped where we could.

“Luckily the ambulance was on scene quickly and he made a full recovery, but we wanted to do more to help. A bit of research on our part showed that defibrillators are available for public use, so we decided to invest in several machines and contacted YAS for their help.”