Fire and Emergency Central Lakes area manager Jeff Maunder says making a difference is an important aspect of the job for him.
Fire and Emergency Central Lakes area manager Jeff Maunder said there was a much broader scope of operations under Fire and Emergency 'that will just get bigger and bigger. "You will see a continuing trend not for the next year but into the future for non-fire incidences.''
Fire and Emergency merged rural, urban, career and volunteer firefighters in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Central Lakes and Tairawhiti from 40 organisations into a new single organisation in July this year. Mr Maunder said that move was fantastic and had allowed the service to support other agencies ''as opposed to doing it ourselves, so it's actually what is best for the community''.
It worked alongside police, St John, Civil Defence and other government departments including the Ministry for Primary Industries. ''We work collaboratively and effectively with our emergency partners to all keep our communities safe.'' One of the main challenges at the moment was bringing together rural and urban, Mr Maunder said. ''We are at the integration phase and we are working out what that will look like going forward. ''You have got the opportunity to have a single agency operating with its partners delivering a focused and targeted service.''
Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Phil Muldoon said it was definitely getting a lot more medical callouts and car accidents. ''There is always going to be non-fire emergencies as the population expands. We can deal with anything from broken limbs to motor vehicle accidents and the odd wayward tourist driving on the wrong side of the road.'' Mr Muldoon said that in the Lake Okareka area 99 per cent of the time his crew was at the scene first.
In his view, he said, the Fire and Emergency amalgamation was brilliant. ''We have always had a very close relationship with the New Zealand Fire Service and the urban brigades. ''We've had inter-training with them for 15 years, not only the last couple of months, so it's not much difference to us at all.''
St John District Operations Central East manager Jeremy Gooders said Fire and Emergency supports two types of medical responses, with St John and non-medical assistance that could include lifting and extracting patients. A nationwide co-response was introduced in December 2013 for the small number of urgent, time-critical incidents including cardiac and respiratory arrests that occur, which amount to about 11 callouts a day, he said.
Data shows Fire and Emergency (FENZ) attends an average of two responses a week. ''St John advises FENZ to dispatch a resource to provide additional personnel on scene to assist with patient management and improve their chances of survival. St John has a close working relationship with colleagues at FENZ. We are in no doubt that the assistance of FENZ positively influences patient outcomes.''
Nationally, FENZ was fundamental in the early defibrillation of 95 adult patients in cardiac arrest before the arrival of St John in the 2015-2016 reporting year. Of these patients, 38 per cent survived to hospital hand over and 28 per cent survived to hospital discharge.
''Patients and their needs are the most important focus for St John and, by working alongside other professionals such as our colleagues in Fire and Emergency New Zealand, we can deliver timely and effective response to the best of our collective abilities. Both St John and FENZ rely on the generous contribution of hundreds of volunteers throughout the country to support the important work we do. We thank these volunteers for the contribution they make to their communities.''
Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Stuart Nightingale said Fire and Emergency played an incredibly important role within our community. ''We work closely alongside them to make our community a safer place for our people to be in, and the assistance and specialist skills they offer at incidents is invaluable.''
Police and Fire and Emergency frequently attend calls for service together, and they are often first responders to critical incidents where lives are at risk, particularly vehicle crashes. ''Police have absolute confidence in their ability as critical incident experts. Fire and Emergency New Zealand have an excellent training facility here in Rotorua which they allow us to use for various training, including search and rescue.
''Our organisations also provide representation at the Emergency Services Combined Committee, which is an important multi-agency forum that provides an opportunity to strengthen our working relationships, to improve our collaborative approach to emergency management within our community.''
Making a Difference
Difference. It is a word Jeff Maunder uses a lot. In fact those words ''to make a difference'' are what encouraged the Fire and Emergency Central Lakes area manager into the service more than three decades ago. He started off as a volunteer firefighter in South Auckland and really liked the idea of ''having a job where you were able to do cool stuff''.
So in 1985 he signed up and started to make that difference in the wider community and at the 11 stations his career has taken him to. There is not much Mr Maunder has not seen - including death, tragedy, environmental disasters and devastating fires - but he has taken it in his stride. ''I think the one that stands out to me the most is where we were quite helpless. A lady had been involved in a car accident and it caught fire and she was unable to be saved.''
''I was there as an investigator, that was really difficult because from my perspective it's all about being able to do something. We turn up, we do what we do really well, we do something to make it better or stop it from getting worse. ''In this case there was nothing anyone could have done, which was really sad.''
Mr Maunder was also involved with the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes and the floods at Edgecumbe. ''I think generally there is an understanding that our job is to help people. When you have the opportunity to do the business, you want to be able to do it well and have a good effect. ''The guys, we are all pretty keen on that. When things go a bit tricky, like when a good day for us is a bad day for others, we want to make sure what we do is effective and we do it well and it has a good impact.''
Laughter is also important to Mr Maunder and the general camaraderie with his team. ''We work very professionally and very effectively but we should be able to have a laugh.'' Mr Maunder started his latest role as area manager in May.