Firefighters could be the first person to treat someone in cardiac arrest as a new pilot was started this week.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue and the East of England Ambulance Service will pilot a scheme where fire crews will act as first responders when someone is in cardiac arrest.

Firefighters will be sent if they can get there and begin treatment before an ambulance.

Watford and Stevenage have been chosen as the two areas to pilot the scheme and fire chiefs confirmed the scheme will start this week.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue will monitor how long it will take fire engines to get to different callouts.

House fires automatically mean three fire crews will be sent to the scene.

And the fire service has identified this as one area that could be affected if a fire crew from Watford is attending a cardiac arrest call, because more crews will have to be called in from areas like Garston and Rickmansworth.

Fire chiefs want to assess if there would be any knock-on effect there.

Roy Wilsher, chief fire officer and director of community protection, said: “Firefighters are trained to provide immediate emergency care and we already carry trauma kits and defibrillators on our fire engines. It makes sense for us to use these life-saving skills to support the ambulance service in situations where we can get to a patient more quickly.

“We already work closely with the ambulance service at incidents and we even share stations in some areas so this pilot is a natural evolution of that collaboration.

“We aren’t trying to turn firefighters in to paramedics, it’s about making the best use of the emergency services capabilities, regardless of which uniform they wear.”

Ambulance bosses are also backing the scheme, adding that it is vital someone in cardiac arrest is given treatment as quickly as possible.

Rob Ashford, Acting Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: "Building on the collaborative work already undertaken through community first response, public access defibrillation and RAF co-response schemes, we also believe co-response schemes can add to our ability to respond to patients quickly and start basic life support.

"The ambulance service will continue to send clinicians to such patients as a top priority.”