THE woman who has captained Te Kaha’s ambulance station from a train wreck to a thriving community resource has had her contract extended for another year.
Trudy Haringa arrived in Te Kaha in May last year, tasked with building up a volunteer ambulance station.
When she arrived the station only had one volunteer, who was inactive.
As of Friday last week, the ambulance station has 14 volunteers, most of whom have completed their New Zealand Certificate in Emergency Care, which qualifies them as a first responder.
“This means they can go out by themselves, the ambulance is double crewed,” Ms Haringa said.
The announcement that Ms Haringa’s contract had been extended was made at the Te Kaha and Waihau Bay ambulance stations’ awards night, which was held at the Te Kaha Beach Hotel on Friday.
During her tenure, Ms Haringa has also supported Waihau Bay with recruitment.
“They now have eight volunteers there, up from four,” she said.
The paramedic said the key to the successful volunteer recruiting was being available for everyone.
“There has been a huge amount of after-hours work,” she said.
“The internet isn’t adequate there and I have been helping the volunteers with processes and applications.”
St John district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said bringing Ms Haringa to Te Kaha had turned out “a real success story”.
“We now have a fantastic team of volunteers in Te Kaha,” he said.
With St John having previously had difficulties with retaining staff in Te Kaha, the support that Ms Haringa supplied had made all the difference.
“We are now able to recruit and maintain staff in Te Kaha,” Mr Gooders said.
‘Mistake’ well worth it
TE Kaha ambulance volunteer Tareha Webb said he’s been in the service for one year and that his recruitment was essentially a mistake.
He had visited the ambulance station to speak with a responder.
“Trudy came out with a paper, I thought it was to pay my yearly fee, but she signed me up,” Mr Webb said.
“This has taught me to always read the fine print of what you sign.”
Mr Webb is one of the qualified responders.
“I love it and I have learned a lot,” he said.
Russell Hogg signed up in July last year, saying that as he’s coming closer to retirement, he wanted something to do.
“I also want to help with the community,” he said.
Almost having completed his first responder training, Mr Hogg just needs to complete his patient driving module.
“Working here is great, we’ve got a good team with a good spirit,” he said.
“We all get on and work well together.”
Cadet training proves popular
TE Kaha St John Ambulance station is now also offering cadet training that’s proving to be wildly popular.
Volunteer Jarrod Paget-Knebel signed up with the station in May last year.
“We really needed the service here,” he said. “I was tossing up between the ambulance service and nursing, but experienced people suggested I start with the ambulance to get experience.”
Mr Paget-Knebel said he enjoyed the work, especially going out on jobs, and that he is taking his new-found career further.
“I have applied for casual emergency-medical-assistant jobs in Opotiki and Whakatane,” he said.
“And I am in training to become an emergency-medical-technician.”
Meanwhile, Mr Paget-Knebel is one of four members to have signed up to offer cadet courses.
“We have signed up 30 kids,” he said.
The training has already started, with the cadets meeting Mondays at 4.30pm at the ambulance station.
“The first training badge we are working on is communication,” Mr Paget-Knebel said.
“We’re doing first aid training at the same time.”
St John district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said the cadet training that was now offered in Te Kaha was “another positive spin-off” resulting from Ms Haringa’s work.