More than 100 Stockholm taxis will be equipped with defibrillators and their drivers trained to help cardiac arrest victims, medical and taxi officials said on Friday.
The taxis, which will also respond to emergency calls when they have no customers, are sometimes closer to the scene than an ambulance, according to Jeanette Lindstroem, who heads the project at Stockholm's biggest cab company Taxi Stockholm.
"The sooner the patients get help the greater their chances of survival. We are out on the roads 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency, we can get there quickly and begin life-saving measures," Lindstroem said.
But "we are absolutely not going to replace ambulances," she added.
The initiative is a collaboration with Stockholm hospital Soedersjukhuset.
"Every minute that passes reduces the chance of survival without any lasting injury by 10 percent. So this project increases patients' chances significantly," the head doctor at emergency rescue service SOS Alarm, Lars Engerstroem, told Swedish public radio SR.
One Taxi Stockholm driver taking part in the project, Joakim Svendsen, said the defibrillator was simple to use.
"It's incredibly easy. You just lift the lid, push the on-off button, and it starts giving you instructions," he told the radio, adding that with his own background as a nursing assistant he hoped to be able to help someone in an emergency.
"I would probably be incredibly nervous. You're standing there and have the chance to save a life," he said.
The defibrillators will only be used when the patient's heart has stopped and there is no pulse.
Several dozen security guards and their vans will also be equipped with defibrillators.
According to the Swedish Heart and Lung Association, 11,000 Swedes die every year of acute cardiac arrest.