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24 May 2019

Less than 1% chance of survival.


When Dr. Mark Forrest first met John O’Brien he was in a serious road traffic collision and suffered a traumatic cardiac arrest and effectively dead in the street. Working with another doctor on the North West Air Ambulance, he performed open chest surgery and successfully resuscitated John who statistically had a 1% chance of survival. Remarkably, John made an excellent recovery and since gone home to his family and walked his daughter down the aisle.

Needless to say, the second time they met was an incredible experience that both will never forget, but to then also receive a Chief Fire officers Commendation on the same night added to the overall experience. Dr. Mark Forrest has worked with Fire and Rescue Services in training for nearly 25 years, but 12 years ago he became the first Medical Director for a UK Fire service with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officers presentation opening, he described how he was impressed by the ambitious plans set out to train the Service in casualty care, but he admitted that he was also a little unsure if the plans would be achievable. Over 10 years later he was delighted to say that the plans were delivered and Cheshire now has some of the best-trained Firefighters in the UK and also has the current UKRO Trauma Challenge Champions.

Initially BTACC (Basic Trauma and Casualty Care) was introduced across the service to provide a far more relevant set of skills and knowledge, than traditional first aid, for operational fire crews. Then several years later selected firefighters were given the opportunity to attend the multidisciplinary advanced level ATACC course. This course is accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons and a truly international reputation as the ultimate trauma course with a 2 year waiting list and candidates traveling from across the globe to attend the course at Fire Headquarters.

The ATACC Group has also written and introduced a brand new First aid course called FTACC (First Aid Trauma and Casualty Care), which takes a completely fresh new approach to first aid training, aiming to improve confidence and better engage first aiders and non-operational staff. This course has become a huge success and is now accredited by Qualsafe and widely taught across the Fire & Police emergency services and high-risk industries.

Our established robust clinical Governance structure behind the training ensures that standards are being met and maintained and the ATACC Group provides this service to other leading Fire and Rescue Services and over 50,000 UK police officers.

Through our clinical governance any equipment or training needs are recognised and we have adapted and further developed the training to meet this requirement and established the final piece of the Integrated Emergency Care programme (IECP) called the RTACC (Rescue Trauma & Casualty Care) course. This course is also accredited by Qualsafe and is ideal for high-risk services and industry.

The Chief closed his remarks by stating that we have indeed delivered our plans and by up-skilling the firefighters, they have bought time and often meant the difference between life and death for countless casualties. As such it gave him great pleasure in awarding the highly prestigious Chief Fire Officers commendation, which is only rarely awarded for the greatest of achievements.

In receiving the award Dr. Forrest stressed his passion for working with Fire and Rescue Services and responding to life and limb threatening situations. He described how he feels such huge pride when he arrives on the scene at incidents and he sees firefighters delivering life-saving casualty care skills and making a difference.

The case of John O’Brien is an excellent example where firefighters have managed to identify a time-critical casualty and then worked alongside the paramedics to facilitate a rescue and then keep him alive until a medical team arrives. This has been a fantastic journey and we still have more to do but the skills of the firefighters are now keeping people alive long enough so that when the doctors arrive, we can then do extended skills and save more lives such as John’s.