Lookers has partnered with a North East health charity to increase NHS response times for those that suffer a heart attack or cardiac arrest by supplying the Ambulance Service with a new emergency response vehicle.

Lookers Audi Newcastle has partnered with North East non-profit organisation Cardioproof to provide the brand new Audi SQ5, which promises to improve cardiac arrest response times and save between 40 to 50 additional lives each year.

As well as being striped up as an NHS Ambulance Service vehicle and sporting the Newcastle Audi and Cardioproof sponsorship logos, the vehicle has been fitted with the very latest life-saving equipment and will soon begin its duties across the North East and beyond; from the Scottish borders right down to North Riding and the Yorkshire Dales.

Cardioproof believe that the vehicle, which will be used by the Cardiac Arrest Response Unit (CARU) based at North East Ambulance Service Headquarters in Newcastle, will prove to be one of the most important vehicles that the NHS will operate in the North East and could significantly increase survival rates among those that suffer out of hospital cardiac arrests.

The vehicle is the result of a friendship between Lookers Chief Operating Officer Nigel McMinn and his neighbour and Cardioproof founder Professor Michael Norton.

In fact it was Nigel’s son and car fan Joseph that suggested the SQ5 be used due to its ideal specifications for the task at hand, including spacious interior and smooth and responsive handling, as well as its ability to cover large distances through its speed and raw power, with a 309bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds among its impressive performance figures.

Lookers has provided a number of vehicles to worthy causes over recent years, including a Vauxhall Mokka to England Deaf Rugby Union (EDRU) and cancer support charity Help Harry Help Others.

Nigel McMinn said: “I’ve known Michael for a number of years and have always admired his dedication to helping save the lives of those unfortunate enough to have a cardiac arrest. It’s a very sudden and traumatic event that can happen to absolutely anyone, whether you’re fit and healthy or not, which makes providing this vehicle all the more important.

“It was also great to see my son Joseph get involved. At 11 years old, he’s already a bit of a car nut and his suggestion of a SQ5 was one that stuck and I’m sure that it will prove to be the perfect vehicle for this kind of vital work.”

As well as introducing the rapid response vehicle, Cardioproof has begun rolling out automated external defibrillators (AED), with the equipment recently fitted in Front Street, Tynemouth, and outside Café 95 on Gosforth High Street. It’s all part of the organisation’s wider aim of increasing cardiac arrest survival rates from 4% to 16% in the North East.

Professor Michael Norton, who plans to accompany NHS Ambulance Service staff in the new vehicle on certain shifts, said: “We are so grateful to Newcastle Audi for partnering with Cardioproof to provide this vehicle. This car will save lives. It is the most important emergency service vehicle in our region – it responds to more immediately life threatening emergencies than any other vehicle. We believe it will make a huge difference to the Cardiac Arrest Response Unit and help get the right people and equipment to the right place at the right time. Every second counts in cardiac arrest and a car that can safely make up ground on ‘blue light’ runs can make the difference between life and death.”