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Firefighters come to Te Marae Ora’s rescue

Tuesday 12 April 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Firefighters come to Te Marae Ora’s rescue
Puaikura Volunteer firefighters Selina Shariff and Asaeli Vunibaka. SUPPLIED/22041013

Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade members have been assisting Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health first responders for the past month.

With Covid-19 affecting staff levels, the volunteer firefighters have helped keep the ambulance service covered with personnel.

Volunteer firefighter Tarina Moorfield said each week an ambulance officer had either contracted Covid-19 or needed to isolate with affected family members.

“This has placed huge pressure on the already struggling service. So, when the call went out for support from the Puaikura volunteers, they were all too happy to help where they could,” Moorfield said.

In 2021, the Puaikura Fire Brigade signed a memorandum of understanding with TMO to formalise the working relationship. It’s meant TMO have been able to call on the brigade for support and assistance where needed.

The firefighters also assisted TMO with the vaccination rollout last year.

Moorfield said most of the volunteer firefighters have been trained to a level of pre-hospital emergency care.

“These skills, coupled with their emergency response driving, it seems fitting for them to transfer these skills over to the ambulance setting.”

She said volunteer firefighters helping first responders is not uncommon.

“In fact, many rural and semi-rural fire stations throughout New Zealand, co-respond with ambulances to medical incidents. 

“This could be a strategy that is considered within Rarotonga to boost coverage of ambulance services and improve emergency service response times.”

But Moorfield said for now the volunteer firefighters were working with TMO colleagues “just to keep the wheels in motion” and serve their community.