Uneven interest in emergency services

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014

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Other emergency services in South Canterbury that rely on volunteers are not facing the same issue as St John.

With a total of 270 volunteers in the Mid and South Canterbury region, the New Zealand Fire Service is only five short of its ideal number of volunteers.

New Zealand Fire Service area manager Paul Henderson said there was "more than the required amount" of volunteers at some stations.

"We had an open day and call up for volunteers a couple of weeks ago in Ashburton. We now have 15 people on the waiting list," he said.

Fairlie was another area full with volunteers. There was more than the 20 required there, he said.

St Andrews and Twizel were the two fire stations short of volunteers.

Twizel had 17 volunteers already, and needed three more to be full, Henderson said.

St Andrews had 15 volunteers and two short for a complete roster. Henderson was unable to comment on why the Fire Service did not have the same issue attracting volunteers as St John.

"I'm not sure. The training requirements are quite a lot for fire so it's not that."

St John spokesman Ian Henderson thought people may be put off from volunteering for the organisation because they believed it was all "blood and guts".

"It's not all like that, that's not all we do," he said.

It was just a case of people being busy with their lives or not wanting to deal with certain aspects of the job, he said.

There was no scandal behind the lack of volunteers in the regions, Henderson said.

Police coordinator for Land Search and Rescue volunteers, Brett Swanson, said he had about 70 volunteers in the Mid and South Canterbury region.

"We seem to attract people who like to spend time in the hills and mountains anyway.

"They would like people to look for them if they were ever in that position so that's why they do it," he said.

Swanson believed the basic skill-set was already there due to the type of person it attracts. So the training requirements were not as much as other services.

"Search and rescue is seen as quite cool.

"Our numbers are about right at the moment."

Henderson said his Glenavy station was "chomping at the bit" to do more in the community.

"We currently respond to purple medical calls, alongside St John.[Where the person goes into cardiac arrest].

"In Glenavy they would be keen to take on the role as first responders," he said.

To be a first responder would require further training, but that was not something the volunteers at Glenavy were concerned about.

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- South Canterbury

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