Hilly battle to help children

REBECCA THOMSON
Last updated 11:04 07/05/2012
Hannah Latta
REBECCA THOMSON
Helping hand: Paramedic Hannah Latta is gearing up for a gruelling mountain bike race.

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The Wellingtonian

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Paramedic Hannah Latta has gone from sailing the high seas to mountain biking for charity.

The Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic will take part in a 12-hour mountain race this month to raise money for specialist paediatric equipment for the service.

A former New Zealand Navy medic, Miss Latta will compete alongside 2000 others in the Cateye Moonride Mountain Bike Race at Tui Ridge Park near Rotorua on May 12.

Participants must complete as many circuits of the eight-kilometre track as possible.

Miss Latta said seeing small children in critical condition gave her the impetus to undertake such a gruelling event.

"Riding is something I love and to combine that with helping Wellington Free help kids, it's something I'm very passionate about,'' she said.

"Twelve hours on a bike is not going to be easy, but when you see little kids who need critical care, that's all the inspiration I need.''

Owing to their size, children often had different needs to adults and when it came to monitoring their health, they did not always show the signs of being critically unwell until it was too late.

Miss Latta said she aimed to raise $65,000 so paediatric pulse oxymeters, which measured the amount of oxygen in the blood, could be placed in all Wellington Free ambulances.

During the past year Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics attended to 3549 children under 10.

She has plans to take part in other biking events until she had raised enough money for the new equipment.

Miss Latta spent six years in the navy before retraining to become a paramedic.

"The navy in my blood. Every male in my family was in the navy and parents always thought it was a good grounding for me, and I thought it was, too. You learn a lot of core values.

"My family is also medicine oriented. Many of them work in health care, so it's hardly surprising I am too.''

She is an avid cyclist and used to take part in downhill racing events, but gave up the sport after damaging her back several years ago.
After she had healed, Miss Latta decided to try mountain biking, and
enjoyed it.

"I love the freedom of it and being at one with nature, and you get to see some awesome places in New Zealand.''

During her stint with the navy, Miss Latta specialised as a dive medical technician and learnt to operate a hyperbaric or decompression chamber.

"I do miss it [the navy] from time to time, and think about going back, but it would be a step backward for me.

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"I miss the sea. As they say, once a sailor, always a sailor.''

- See everydayhero.co.nz/hannah_latta

- The Wellingtonian

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