An afternoon of emergency response training on Saturday was followed by the arrival of the Red Cross team from Hamilton where the YES group assisted in setting up the welfare centre which would be home for the next 12 hours. Shortly after midnight, the YES team were woken by sirens and called on to assist Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force put out fires in a scrub area. A Red Cross stretcher-carry back to camp completed the exercise.
Sunday arrived and, divided into teams, the YES participants navigated their way through various scenarios. They joined Land Search and Rescue to search for, and locate, a child missing in the bush. Another group got to work searching a smoke-filled building, locating a trapped person and bringing them out safely. Not far away, scrub fires needed dousing. A team assessed a diabetic rider who had fallen from a horse and applied first aid while another joined the Rotorua Emergency Response Team to abseil down a cliff to an injured hunter, strap his fractured leg and stretcher him to safety.
YES volunteer Jahcena Henry says she is grateful of the time the emergency service volunteers took to share their experiences and knowledge with the group. "I learnt so much about what they all do to help our community — from the littlest things to huge disasters." Jahcena adds she felt privileged to work alongside the services and learn new skills that would hopefully lead to a position in the emergency services area. "One thing I have learnt is that you can't always do things alone and that's where team work comes in".
The Work and Income YES programme aimed to give participants the opportunity to contribute to, and connect with, their community while gaining marketable employment skills and an insight into potential career pathways. The group also engaged in work preparation and job search-related activities with their Work and Income case managers. Participation in the programme was voluntary.
YES volunteer Annastasia Wieblitz says YES gave her the confidence to try new things. "After spending time with such amazing people I know I can do anything I set my mind to." On the job front, Annastasia said the programme has helped improve her confidence and motivation to find work in the childcare industry.
Emergency service personnel from St John, NZ Fire Service (including Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force and Operational Support), River Rescue, Land Search and Rescue, the Rotorua Emergency Response Team and Hamilton Red Cross took part.
Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Phil Muldoon says the Rotorua exercise was also a valuable chance for the participating emergency services to practice for real-life emergencies. "We were impressed by the candidates. They showed enthusiasm and willingness to take new skills on board. "They were challenged physically and mentally, and they rose to those challenges. It's been a real pleasure to see them grow."
Bay of Plenty Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant says each member of the YES team was outstanding. "They demonstrated all the attributes employers look for — timekeeping, team work, punctuality and a willingness to learn. Most of them are considering volunteering and they all want to work". Not a group to let time pass them by, they are now working with their Work and Income case managers and work brokers to find jobs. Mike urges employers who might be looking at recruiting to consider hiring from this group. "Just call work broker Shona Patrick on (07) 921 8051 and she'll go from there".
Rotorua Weekender - 18th March 2014