Firefighter uses sign language to connect to deaf community to emergency services

Nick Linton, a senior fire fighter at Waitemata Fire Service has created a Hearing Impaired Emergency Services Day on ...
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Nick Linton, a senior fire fighter at Waitemata Fire Service has created a Hearing Impaired Emergency Services Day on March 5.

 Senior fire fighter Nick Linton is bilingual these days. 

His second language - which he describes as a "rad little language" - is New Zealand sign language, and he's using it to reach out to the deaf and hearing impaired community with the emergency services.

On March 5, he's organised an event at North West Shopping Centre, with a police and ambulance officer who both sign as well.

Waitemata Area Fire Service/Facebook

Nick Linton from the Waitemata Area Fire Service has organised an event for deaf and hearing impaired to learn more about emergency services.

Linton wants to raise awareness of different emergency tools of use to the deaf and hearing impaired community.

READ MORE: Fireman ensures message heard

This includes fire alarms which cause the the bed to shake and lights to flash, as well as communication booklets that can be used in medical emergencies to indicate pain and location of the injury.

Linton, who is partially deaf in one ear, began learning sign language a year and half ago, through a full immersion course through the Auckland Deaf Society.

With the continued support of the Waitemata Area Fire Service, he has kept studying and has so far made around 10 safety videos for the service in sign language, all of which are posted to their Facebook page.

Linton says he hopes the emergency services event will continue annually, with the possibility of extending to Wellington and Christchurch - cities recently affected by civil emergencies - where deaf communities might feel isolated from such services.

As well as emergency crews, there will also be Civil Defence on site, as well as fun activities such as face painting.

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Linton says there will be information around funding for emergency alerts, such as fire alarms, and other hearing impaired equipment.

More than anything though, he says it's an opportunity for the deaf community to get out and have fun.

"It's a really good chance for members of the deaf community to see that, hey, there are members of the emergency community that can sign.

"There are not many granted… but there are people out there that care about you," he says.

The Deaf & Hearing Impaired Emergency Services event is on March 5 at North West Shopping Centre, Maki St, 11am-2pm.

See northwestshoppingcentre.co.nz for more.

 - North Harbour News

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