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Our fire fighters can save lives – expert

Friday August 23, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Volunteer firefighters in Titikaveka during a training exercise. Volunteer firefighters in Titikaveka during a training exercise.

Using local firefighters as first attenders at road accidents here can be effective in improving victims’ survival chances, says a Fire and Emergency NZ boss.


Ian Pickard says given proper training, these firefighters can be a huge help to paramedics.

Puaikura Fire Brigade volunteers have been acting as first responders to road crashes here, and the Health Ministry is promising to formalise their working arrangement.

Pickard, who is Fire and Emergency NZ’s manager national training centre, says “serious consideration should be given” to setting up procedures so they can quickly respond to incidents.

“The focus should always be on delivering highly trained resources that are closest and immediately available to assist in the best outcomes for our people and our communities.”

Pickard said Fire and Emergency NZ was first responder to all motor vehicle accidents in New Zealand.

They responded with a fire appliance for scene safety and a pump rescue tender for any requirements that maybe needed for patient extrication or rescue.

“We are also the first responders to all ‘purple call’ medical alerts. A purple medical call is where there is any serious threat to life through cardiac arrest, or respiratory failure or other serious life threatening situation.”

Last week volunteer firefighters from Puaikura, who are qualified in Pre-Hospital Emergency Care, revived a teenager involved in a road smash before the ambulance arrived to the scene. The teenager was unresponsive and not breathing. The volunteers conducted CPR on the 18-year-old until he started breathing again.

Brigade member Tarina Moorfield said they had attended to other similar cases as first responders, despite lack of communication from hospitals on road accidents in Rarotonga.

They were yet to receive a formal acknowledgement on this working arrangement from the hospital, she said.

Dr Yin Yin May, the director of hospital health services, earlier said the Ministry of Health was considering the use of the fire volunteers as first responders for road accidents.