Spare a thought for first responders as holiday call-outs ramp up

Source: 1News

Spare a thought for the first responders who're attending medical events and accidents, as you enjoy the holiday break.

For rescue crews the summer days can be long, tiring and emotional keeping Kiwis safe, often in far-flung corners of the country.

Another ordinary day on shift is anything but, when you work for Auckland's Rescue Helicopter Trust.

A boat on fire near Waiheke Island was the first callout of the day yesterday.

"We got a report that there were five people in the water," said Ati Wynyard, a helicopter crewman.

The boat is said to have caught alight when the engine was turned on.

Four people rowed to safety, while one stayed behind to try and put out the blaze.

"He had symptoms of smoke inhalation so we got our paramedic and doctor to check him out and we bought him back to Auckland Hospital," Mr Wynyard said. 

Then it was a car crash on Auckland's waterfront.

1 NEWS was about to interview pilot Rob Arrowsmith when he had to dash away to lend a hand.

"The Westpac guys were here within a short time because it's just down the road from their base," Police senior sergeant Matt Rogers said.

The elderly driver had to be cut from the car and was taken to hospital with moderate injuries.

"We are always expecting to work this hard, this time of the year," Rob Arrowsmith said. 

Two days earlier the rescue team had their busiest day on record - 11 separate emergencies which saw both helicopters in the air at once and two shifts of crews working non-stop.

Intensive care paramedic Ross Aitkin said there were missions in which some patients were very unwell and required some significant medical interventions as well as treatment decisions.

We often sit around and chat for a little while just to decompress and talk about what happened

—  Rob Arrowsmith, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust pilot

Life and death decisions are part of the job but busy days these like these can take their toll.

"The things that are more difficult to deal with are the emotions you see in family and friends, and that aspect to it," Mr Aitkin said. 

Pilot Rob Arrowsmith said even when it's time to go home "we often sit around and chat for a little while just to decompress and talk about what happened - try to learn lessons for next time. But also it's a chance to get off our chest the things that have bothered us".

And while down time is important, for rescue crews across the country there's unlikely to be much of it as Kiwis ring in the new year.