FIREFIGHTERS from Blackburn have praised life-saving equipment after using it for the first time.

John Riley and Tanya Birtwell leapt into action to help a collapsed man using a defibrillator, which offers immediate treatment for life-threatening heart conditions.

The pair were taking a break from first aid training at Blackburn Fire Station when they were called to help the man, in his 50s, in nearby Sumner Street.

John, 48, said: “We were doing a first aid course at the station and having a refresher on the defibrillator.

“At lunchtime, two men came and said they had found a man collapsed at the back of the station.

“He was showing symptoms of a heart attack.”

Mr Riley, who lives in Oswaldtwistle and has been a firefighter for 27 years, attached the machine to the man’s chest and gave him oxygen as an ambulance raced to the scene, at around 2.15pm on Sunday. He said: “One minute we were having lunch, the next minute we were shaving a man’s chest and sticking pads on him.”

It was the first time the defibrillator has been used since it was installed last year.

Mr Riley added: “The defib analyses the body and tells you what’s happened and does the actions by itself. It can shock if it needs to. It’s a good piece of kit we have only just started carrying.”

Although the machine can shock if it needs to, in an effort to correct an irregular heart beat, it did not administer a shock to the man, who was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital suffering from ‘chest pains’, an ambulance service spokesman said.