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Wellington Free Ambulance recognised for innovation

Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] has received international recognition for its innovative approach to providing healthcare services for the Greater Wellington and Wairarapa region.

The ambulance service scooped up three awards at last week’s annual Council of Ambulance Authorities [CAA] congress as part of an award programme that’s designed to encourage and acknowledge innovations from ambulance services throughout Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

The Brisbane-based ceremony saw WFA presented with two awards for excellence – one in patient care for a project looking at the case for prehospital telestroke [which involves stroke treatment experts consulting remotely with the responders on the scene], and the other in mental health and wellbeing for the review of shift pattern and fatigue.

The shift pattern and fatigue review was also gonged with the Star Award, which is presented to the most innovative and groundbreaking initiative across all categories.

A spokesperson from WFA said the shift pattern work was recognised for the way it examined the impact and implications of shift work not only for staff but also for families, patients, and the wider community.

“The purpose of the work was to explore options that reduce the burden of fatigue long term.”

CAA chief executive David Waters said WFA’s initiative is an example of the innovative thinking, collaboration, and capability on display in the ambulance sector.

“The care and long-term welfare of our highly skilled people in each member service is one of the key strategic pillars of the CAA,” Waters said.

“Initiatives like WFA’s prize-winning project are a great example of new thinking to tackle what we all know is an increase in demand for our services and on our people.”

WFA chief executive Dave Robinson said the awards were a credit to the organisation’s hard work, and was especially true of the people who drove the projects that received recognition.

“Their dedication to giving the best care possible to our patients while also caring for our people and their families is an ongoing priority,” Robinson said.

“To be recognised internationally for this is hugely gratifying.”

The wins come at a pivotal time for the organisation, which is still seeking donations to go towards the building of its new ambulance station in Masterton, scheduled to open next year.

The station will be a new permanent home to more than 30 Wairarapa-based ambulance staff with upgraded sleeping rooms, storage, and garaging facilities.

It’s estimated the station will cost about $7 million, with $3m of that sourced from community donations.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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