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Responders answer call

Justin Hudepohl [left], Annah Rait and Brett Townsend in a simulated emergency outside Martinborough Fire Station on Saturday. PHOTOS/SUE TEODORO

Volunteers respond to the call

Martinborough and South Wairarapa will soon have 10 brand new emergency first responders for the community to call on.

Fire and Emergency volunteers from the Martinborough station are being fully trained to back up Wellington Free Ambulance staff in dealing with life-threatening emergencies.

The volunteers are reaching the end of a seven-week part-time training programme, which will give them the tools to deal with broken limbs and other injuries at car crashes, emergency medical events like anaphylaxis and even administer a range of drugs.

Martinborough Fire Station chief Jake Hawkins was doing the training with his team.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to have their own people volunteering and helping them out in their time of need. The public are going to get a better service. They won’t have to wait the 40 minutes that it could take to get an ambulance because of the distance to cover,” he said.

South Wairarapa patients are assisted from the Wellington Free Ambulance base in Masterton. There is also a smaller base in Greytown, which is not always staffed.

“Our turn-out time is three to five minutes of being alerted. We can be at a scene, if it’s in town, within four to five minutes. We can very quickly be doing a patient assessment, administering the limited range of drugs we are allowed to give and giving the advice to the clinical desk as to whether the patient needs to be transported to hospital by ambulance or by helicopter,” he said.

“If anyone has a medical background they are more than welcome to give me a ring because many hands make light work. They won’t be expected to go to fires, it will just be medical first response.”

Jake Hawkins [left], Brendan Harris and Annah Rait in a simulated trauma training exercise.
Hawkins said each one of the volunteers would have invested more than 200 hours into becoming trained by the end of the course. All of them had jobs.

There are 22 volunteers based at the Martinborough Fire Station. There will be a second training course for those unable to attend this one.

Wellington Free Ambulance Wairarapa shift manager Jonathan Rees was overseeing the training programme. He said the course was designed to give the first responders more knowledge about emergency scenarios and more ability to provide treatment.

  • People in the Martinborough region interested in volunteering to be a first responder can email their details to [email protected]

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