Monday, June 17, 2024
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Impressed by job well done

Normally my articles are about the policy and politics of local government. So far, they have focused a lot on money.

This month I want to remind us that one of the purposes of local government is to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and for the future. And part of a community’s social wellbeing is the state of its health system.

Your councils are not major players when it comes to affecting the health of our communities. We rely on other organisations such as the Wellington Free Ambulance service [WFA]. This month’s article is a tribute to the WFA.

Several weeks ago, a WFA board member asked me “Would you like to observe an ambulance shift at work?” I said “Yes, gladly” and a week later I got my shift instruction – “Turn up at the Greytown Ambulance Station on Friday at 5.20am.”

The shift starts at 6am, but the ambulance crew turns up earlier to make sure the hand-over arrangements from the night shift are all sorted, and that they are ready to go on the dot of 6am.

Sometime later, one of the crew decided that it was time for breakfast, and the toast went down. Her crewmate observed that starting a meal is usually a sign that an emergency is about to happen. A minute later, the phones and the radio proved she was right.

We travelled to one of the local villages where the crew found a patient in distress and whose partner was wishing they had gone to the doctor several days earlier. But the patient was not so sure they wanted medical attention. After some discussion and answering questions and concerns, the patient realised that being transported for further medical treatment at the hospital was in their best interests. A trip to the hospital then took place.

Just before lunch, we were called to a second emergency. This time it was more serious, and the patient was even more resistant to being taken to hospital. Eventually, the paramedics’ powers of persuasion worked their magic. By now, a lot of time had slipped by, and the patient’s health was causing more concern. As soon as the patient was in the ambulance, one paramedic drove fast while the other started medical treatment.

After that patient had been transferred to hospital, the crew were texted with an instruction to take a break. The paramedics have to take a break when instructed, and during the 12-hour shift, they get two half-hour breaks.

By now, I was extraordinarily impressed with the skills of the paramedics I am spending the day with. They showed exceptional organisational skills, technical and medical skills, and social skills. By technical-medical skills I mean being able to insert a needle in the vein of someone in a bumping, fast-moving ambulance. But I was even impressed with their social skills. Neither patient wanted to be moved. But with some gentle discussion and persuasion, they both agreed.

I think that many people are reluctant to seek medical help when they should.

Can I suggest that when a family member wants to call an ambulance for you, that you agree willingly and take the advice of the paramedics when they arrive. They are skilled people with your welfare at heart. They really do know what they are doing.

Visiting the Masterton ambulance station was a contrast with the new Greytown Station. The good news is that fundraising for a new station in Masterton is well underway.

We can all help the WFA. I will help with the Onesie Collection in September.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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