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Floods add to baptism of fire

Nigel Watson is the new Wairarapa manager of the Wellington Free Ambulance service. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

By Chelsea Boyle

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It has been a busy first 10 days on the job for Nigel Watson, the new Wairarapa manager of the Wellington Free Ambulance service.

Between the flooding and dealing with a 14 per cent increase in winter sicknesses in Wairarapa, compared to the same time last year, there has been no shortage of work to put him through his paces.

“You’ve earned your keep for the first week,” the boss told Mr Watson.

Mr Watson said his team of paramedics had been seeing a lot more chest infections, headaches and flu-like symptoms lately.

Pneumonia was hitting elderly people hard, while “conditions which cold air exacerbates” such as asthma, bronchitis and croup were affecting young children.

The most vulnerable in the community were always the worst affected in these situations, he said.

Mr Watson said people need to take the right precautions such as staying warm, eating well and exercising.

“Some people might not think they need to see a doctor now, but an appointment might be a week away.”

It was best to make the booking, he said.

“You can always cancel an appointment.

“If you are not sure you need to book.”

Another option was to check in with a pharmacist, who can prescribe certain medications over the counter, he said.

The team at Wellington Free Ambulance could also help if you were unsure.

Just dialling 111 did not mean you would automatically be sent an ambulance.

“It’s part of our job to determine what level of help, or care, is needed for you,” Mr Watson said.

They have clinical paramedics and registered nurses who can take calls if need be, he said.

Mr Watson said he was pleased with how his team was handling such a busy time.

They were still taking care of all the “business as usual” stuff such as transferring patients.

There was a lot that goes on behind the scenes, he said.

Originally from Canterbury, Mr Watson moved to Wellington in 2010 before the Wairarapa lifestyle lured him over the hill.

The cost of living was more affordable here, and people were friendly, he said.

“Why wouldn’t you?”

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