Firefighters: Let us help

Tuesday August 20, 2019 Written by Published in National

Volunteer firefighters who revived a teenager in a weekend road smash are still waiting for the Health Ministry to formalise their working arrangement.


Members of the Puaikura Fire Brigade are qualified in Pre-Hospital Emergency Care. They have rendered their support to Rarotonga hospital to assist them in attending road accidents as first responders.

However Brigade member Tarina Moorfield said they were yet to receive a formal acknowledgement from the hospital.

“We are hoping to establish a communication with the hospital when it comes to emergency cases such as road accidents where we can come in as first responders while an ambulance is being dispatched to attend the case,” Moorfield said.

“There is usually one ambulance available and if we can reduce the response time by being on scene before the ambulance then it may improve the patient’s chances of surviving. We haven’t been able to establish that first responder’s network with the hospital.”

Nine volunteer firefighters from the brigade underwent a special training last year to obtain the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care qualification. The training which went for several months ended in March this year.

Collectively the firefighters sacrificed more than 700 hours to theory and 24 hours of practical and written assessments.

The practical assessments included various scenarios that allowed the firefighters to demonstrate their patient assessment skills and clinical knowledge.

Moorfield said the course was New Zealand Qualifications Authority accredited.

Following the completion of this training, the participants received first responders kit each courtesy of the Cook Islands Trading Corporation. Rarotonga hospital filled the kits with the medical supplies.

Moorfield said Saturday’s accident was one of the few they had attended this year.

The volunteers were returning from a training session when they saw the motorbike accident caused by a dog at Panama. They performed CPR on the teenager, who was unresponsive and had stopped breathing.

They were using a mobile phone app called Active911 to coordinate first responders action. “We use this app to coordinate fire calls. What this app does is provide details of the incident to all members so whoever is nearby the scene and available can attend it,” she said.

“We haven’t received any communication from the hospital in the accidents we have attended so far. We have had members who were at the scene and they coordinated the first responders call using this app.”

Moorfield said the Pre Hospital Emergency Care they are qualified to provide was being under-utilised by the ministry.

They were also looking for sponsorship to help purchase mobile internet data for their members so that they can effectively use the app, she said.

The Health Ministry did not respond to questions yesterday.

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