A SCOTS businessman is campaigning for a £1 million scheme to use taxis as ambulances in a bid to slash high death rates among heart-attack victims.

Gerry Facenna said equipping taxis with defibrilllators that can be used to provide vital treatment could secure dramatic improvements in survival rates.

He also believes lives could be saved by using the transport to ensure victims are treated more quickly.

Research shows patients survive around seven minutes at the most without treatment, but it takes an average of 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive in Glasgow.

However, it is estimated it takes just three-and-a-half minutes for one to arrive at a pick-up point in the city.

Mr Facenna, the owner of Glasgow-based Allied Vehicles, has approached Health Secretary Alex Neil and a meeting has been organised with the Scottish Ambulance Service. He said the response from both so far has been positive.

He added that he is now waiting for a response to his proposal from Mr Neil, but remains hopeful it will be in operation soon.

Mr Facenna said: "I believe we can save thousands of lives with this. I got a real warm reception from Alex Neil on it. Scottish Ambulance seemed pretty excited about it all.

"They've just got to put a whole proposal [together] because it's going to cost £1m or something to fund these defibrilllators.

Mr Facenna, 60, whose firm makes taxis and adapts vehicles for the disabled, wants to equip 1000 cabs to serve the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas. He believes the scheme could be rolled out around the world.

He added: "We're prepared to put the Cardio Cabs name in [the participating taxis] and help them get the whole thing off the ground, and tie the taxi companies up with the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Government.

He became interested in the subject last year after family friend Craig Hodgkinson, 24, died of heart problems while playing rugby.

Mr Facenna subsequently bought six defibrillators to install in Allied's sprawling facilities in Possilpark where around 400 people work. He then learned more about the life-saving possibilities of using defibrillators in other situations.

While sitting in on a training session run by the Scottish Ambulance Service he heard of the high death rates caused by delays in getting ambulances to the scene. He was told that 90% of heart attack victims die because ambulances take too long to arrive.

Mr Facenna believes there are only 50 ambulances in the whole of Glasgow.

By contrast, he pointed out one of the city's biggest firms, Glasgow Taxis, operates 900 black cabs.

Using existing technology it would be easy to identify the nearest available taxi that could quickly divert to the scene of an emergency.

Mr Facenna's held discussions with some taxi drivers and they have been assured they would not be forced to take part in the scheme.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Ambulance Service is always looking to improve and innovate and is working with an increasing range of partners to provide publically accessible defibrillators in remote, rural and urban communities across Scotland. "We recognise that delays in performing defibrillation can be the difference between life and death, which is why we have invested £7.5 million in state-of-the-art defibrillators for all Scottish Ambulance Service ambulances, who reached 78.3% of cardiac arrest patients within eight minutes in 2011/12."

The Scottish Ambulance Service was unavailable for comment.