Logout

Monday, February 26, 2024
18.4 C
Masterton

ADVERTISE WITH US

My Account

- Advertisement -

‘Life-saving’ work receives recognition

Martinborough’s round-the-clock Medical First Response [MFR] service – unique in Wairarapa – stands to be recognised on the national stage.

The life-saving initiative – a collaboration between Fire and Emergency [Fenz] and Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] – has seen Martinborough’s Volunteer Fire Brigade nominated in the Building Resilient Communities category of
this year’s Fenz Ngā
Tohu Raukura Awards [formerly Celebrating Success].

Up and running since December 2021, the MFR four-wheel drive has responded to hundreds of urgent medical calls in South Wairarapa, with the unit clocking up its 101st call for the year so far just last week.

The calls range from ‘purple’ [imminent threat to life such as cardiac arrest] to ‘red’ [needs urgent medical attention] with the occasional ‘orange’ [non-urgent medical attention].

Bill Butzbach – United Fire Brigades’ Association chief executive and former Martinborough chief fire officer – said the nomination is recognition of the
“24/7-365” dedication of the MFR team and their hard fought battle to return ambulance services to Martinborough.

Martinborough’s dedicated ambulance was withdrawn several years ago, due to a combination of dwindling volunteers to staff an after hours response and a change in regional priorities after Wellington Free won the contract for Wairarapa in 2012. Martinborough’s round-the-clock Medical First Response [MFR] service – unique in Wairarapa – stands to be recognised on the national stage.

The life-saving initiative – a collaboration between Fire and Emergency [Fenz] and Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] – has seen Martinborough’s Volunteer Fire Brigade nominated in the Building Resilient Communities category of this year’s Fenz Ngā Tohu Raukura Awards [formerly Celebrating Success].

Up and running since December 2021, the MFR four-wheel drive has responded to hundreds of urgent medical calls in South Wairarapa, with the unit clocking up its 101st call for the year so far just last week.

The calls range from ‘purple’ [imminent threat to life such as cardiac arrest] to ‘red’ [needs urgent medical attention] with the occasional ‘orange’ [non-urgent medical attention].

Bill Butzbach – United Fire Brigades’ Association chief executive and former Martinborough chief fire officer – said the nomination is recognition of the “24/7-365” dedication of the MFR team and their hard fought battle to return ambulance services to Martinborough.

Martinborough’s dedicated ambulance was withdrawn several years ago, due to a combination of dwindling volunteers to staff an after hours response and a change in regional priorities after Wellington Free won the contract for Wairarapa in 2012.

With only three double-crewed ambulances in Wairarapa – one in Greytown, two in Masterton – it meant urgent medical care could be up to 40 minutes away for Martinborough residents, and even longer for those on the south coast.

“There was a lot of public concern about ambulance services,” Butzbach said.

“There was a core group in the brigade who thought, ‘We can do more’, and that we should think about becoming a first response unit for urgent medical intervention.”

The idea took a few years to get over the line.

Although it’s a model used throughout more remote pockets of New Zealand by close to 60 Fenz brigades in partnership with St John, MFR was unheard of in the Wellington region and it was a weighty decision for brigade members.

“They were under no illusion about the commitment,” Butzbach said.

“It’s big. Once you’re in, you’re in, there’s no escape,”

Close to 250 hours are required to complete the Emergency Medical Care Level 3 certificate – including a seven-day in-person course, online learning, and five 12-hour ambulance shifts.

The certificate goes well-beyond first aid.

MFR members can give life-saving drugs such as glucose, adrenaline, and pain relief – with certain medications administered via intramuscular injections, or a nebuliser.

Just last week, a second group trained by WFA almost doubled the number of First Responders in Martinborough from eight to 15, comprising five community volunteers and 10 brigade members.

Jake Hawkins, Martinborough’s current chief fire officer, said the rigorous training and workload is well worth it – you can’t put a price on saving someone’s life.

“There’s a need for community response – we quite often get cut off in floods, and we’re isolated.

“We are Westpac and Wellington Free’s backup. We get there first, secure the scene and stabilise the patient with basic medication, and then they come in with their expertise.

“They have so much knowledge and much bigger toolboxes.”

However, the value of quick and urgent intervention can’t be underestimated – particularly when responding to strokes or anaphylaxis when time is of the essence, Hawkins said.

“We had a woman who was stung by a bee, and she went into anaphylactic shock. When that happens, your throat is swelling up and you stop breathing.

“She collapsed and was going into cardiac arrest, and we were able to give her adrenaline – it’s a life-saving drug.”

Hawkins said the feedback from MFR members so far has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly from firefighters, who for the past decade have been ‘co-responding’ with ambulance services to ‘purple’ calls.

“They love the fact they are helping the people in their community out.

“Unlike a lot of what we deal with as firefighters, which can be pretty traumatic, with the First Response you can get there and help before it’s too late – it helps balance things out.”

The ability to help is reward enough, but the award nomination is an acknowledgement of the team’s time and effort, Hawkins said.

“I’m really proud of it, there has been a huge amount of work from all of them.”

Fenz Wairarapa group manager Craig Cottrill, who nominated the fire brigade for driving the MFR initiative, said the crew fit the brief perfectly.

“They saw a need in their community and stepped up. They have developed that capability and filled that gap, and put a huge amount of mahi in.

“There is no doubt they are saving lives.”

Cottrill said while the nomination is for the whole brigade, special mention must be made of Hawkins, “who led the brigade through this process”.

WFA head of emergency ambulance service Kate Worthington agreed that the collaboration is essential to providing clinically trained first responses in Martinborough and its surrounds.

“Recognising this brigade for all they do is well deserved and a testament to the respect in which they are held by the community they serve.”

Ngā Tohu Raukura Awards 2022 will be held in New Plymouth on July 5. With only three double-crewed ambulances in Wairarapa – one in Greytown, two in Masterton – it meant urgent medical care could be up to 40 minutes away for Martinborough residents, and even longer for those on the south coast.

“There was a lot of public concern about ambulance services,” Butzbach said.

“There was a core group in the brigade who thought, ‘We can do more’, and that we should think about becoming a first response unit for urgent medical intervention.”

The idea took a few years to get over the line.

Although it’s a model used throughout more remote pockets of New Zealand by 59 Fenz brigades in partnership with St John, MFR was unheard of in the Wellington region and it was a weighty decision for brigade members.

“They were under no illusion about the commitment,” Butzbach said.

“It’s big. Once you’re in, you’re in, there’s no escape.”

Close to 250 hours are required to complete the Emergency Medical Care Level 3 certificate – including a seven-day in-person course, online learning, and five 12-hour ambulance shifts.

The certificate goes well-beyond first aid.

MFR members can give life-saving drugs such as glucose, adrenaline, and pain relief – with certain medications administered via intramuscular injections, or a nebuliser.

Just last week, a second group trained by WFA almost doubled the number of First Responders in Martinborough from eight to 15, comprising five community volunteers and 10 brigade members.

Jake Hawkins, Martinborough’s current chief fire officer, said the rigorous training and workload is well worth it – you can’t put a price on saving someone’s life.

“There’s a need for community response – we quite often get cut off in floods, and we’re isolated.

“We are Westpac and Wellington Free’s backup.

“We get there first, secure the scene and stabilise the patient with basic medication, and then they come in with their expertise.

“They have so much knowledge and much bigger toolboxes.”

However, the value of quick and urgent intervention can’t be underestimated – particularly when responding to strokes or anaphylaxis when time is of the essence, Hawkins said.

“We had a woman who was stung by a bee, and she went into anaphylactic shock. When that happens, your throat is swelling up and you stop breathing.

“She collapsed and was going into cardiac arrest, and we were able to give her adrenaline – it’s a life-saving drug.”

Hawkins said the feedback from MFR members so far has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly from firefighters, who for the past decade have been ‘co-responding’ with ambulance services to ‘purple’ calls.

“They love the fact they are helping the people in their community out.

“Unlike a lot of what we deal with as firefighters, which can be pretty traumatic, with the First Response you can get there and help before it’s too late – it helps balance things out.”

The ability to help is reward enough, but the award nomination is an acknowledgement of the team’s time and effort, Hawkins said.

“I’m really proud of it, there has been a huge amount of work from all of them.”

Fenz Wairarapa group manager Craig Cottrill, who nominated the fire brigade for driving the MFR initiative, said the crew fit the brief perfectly.

“They saw a need in their community and stepped up. They have developed that capability and filled that gap, and put a huge amount of mahi in.

“There is no doubt they are saving lives.”

Cottrill said while the nomination is for the whole brigade, special mention must be made of Hawkins, “who led the brigade through this process”.

WFA head of emergency ambulance service Kate Worthington agreed that the collaboration is essential to providing clinically trained first responses in Martinborough and its surrounds.

“Recognising this brigade for all they do is well deserved and a testament to the respect in which they are held by the community they serve.”

Ngā Tohu Raukura Awards 2022 will be held in New Plymouth on July 5.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
Trending
Masterton
light rain
18.4 ° C
18.4 °
17.7 °
59 %
2kmh
100 %
Mon
19 °
Tue
23 °
Wed
20 °
Thu
22 °
Fri
28 °