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Teaming up to save lives

CAPTION: Firefighters and paramedics demonstrate how they work together in emergencies to photographer Mark Tantrum PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

By Hayley Gastmeier

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Firefighters and paramedics joined forces yesterday to demonstrate how they work as a team in life-threatening emergencies.

A photoshoot was held in Masterton with various staff from the New Zealand Fire Service and Wellington Free Ambulance.

Both organisations are part of the ‘first responders scheme’, meaning that when a call comes through 111, the closest party responds first to ensure the best outcome is achieved.

Wellington Free Ambulance spokesperson Diane Livingston said the photoshoot was part of a campaign to promote and raise awareness about the scheme.

“It’s to make people aware of the scheme and to make sure they aren’t confused that if they call for an ambulance for a cardiac arrest, the Fire Service may be the first to the scene to give medical attention, while the ambulance makes its way.”

Gary McMillen is a full-time paramedic with Wellington Free Ambulance, as well as a volunteer firefighter with the Carterton Fire Brigade.

He said there was a strong relationship between the two services, which worked together in a wide-range of scenarios.

These included car crashes, medical events, and fires.

Carterton volunteer firefighter and paramedic Gary McMillen (left) with Masterton Fire Service station officer Doug Flowerday .

“The Fire Service often assists the ambulance to help with lifting and extrication in tricky circumstances.

“As ambulance provide medical cover on the scene at a serious fire, assisting injured or incapacitated firefighters or patients.”

Mr McMillen said with the Easter holiday coming up, it was important that measures were taken to keep family and friends safe, and prevent unnecessary fatalities on Kiwi roads.

“Share the driving, take regular breaks, and maintain a safe following distance,” he said.

It was also key to make sure vehicles being taken on holiday were roadworthy.

Masterton Fire Service station officer Doug Flowerday said it was not unusual for firefighters to be first on the scene at a medical event, where they would provide “basic life support”.

“Once the ambulance is on the scene, primarily we are there for the man power.

“They do the technical medical response while we give CPR and assist where ever else we can.”

Mr Flowerday said if people had guests staying with them over Easter, it was important that working smoke alarms were placed in sleeping areas.

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