As soon as I heard that the Emergency Services were having a Family Day I knew the boys would be dead keen to go (yes I do realise the phrase I used…). We’ve seen these different rescue agencies at their best during the aftermath of the earthquakes here, but I thought it would be really good for the boys to see them when they were putting on a show rather than a brave face.
So after Saturday morning tennis we headed out to Pegasus Town, a contrived new town still waiting for its inhabitants, about 20minutes drive north of Christchurch. All the different rescue agencies had been invited: Westpac Rescue (Air Ambulance), NZ Army, Civil Defence, USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) NZ Fire Service, Rural Fire Service, St Johns Ambulance, NZ Police, Surf Lifesaving, Red Cross, and the NZ Coastguard. They couldn’t have been friendlier. Every agency we visited had something for the boys to see, do, clamber over or explore inside, and they made the most of it. Here are our favourites:
The two boys clambered through the truck had the soldier on the roof happily let them have a look through the scope mounted gun, and the soldier on the ground handed his gun over to my eldest who was itching to have a hold.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter
Having had their Otago colleagues airlift my youngest son from our holiday home to hospital after a prolonged seizure, we had a long chat with the crew. The little one was fascinated to see the helicopter up close having heard so much about it, but not having any memory of it.
We then watched them work with the surf lifesavers to demonstrate a water rescue where a paramedic jumped out of the helicopter into the lake, secured a member of the Surf Lifesaving Club, and then winched to the helicopter and transferred to land. The helicopter then demonstrated a dry land rescue where they winched a person from the ground into the helicopter. Impressive to see. And then their movements picked up the pace and there was a flurry of activity as an emergency call came in and they headed off on another mission – a motor vehicle crash in Governors Bay.
Rural Fire Service
They had a good clamber through the Rural Fire helicopter with its monsoon bucket, and then watched the pilot demonstrate his impressive flying skills with a monsoon bucket attached.
Search and Rescue
At camp this week Search and Rescue (SAR) had come in and done a couple of exercises with the kids which highlighted the importance of how hard it is to search and find something, and the importance of bright clothing in the bush. Alpine and Cliff SAR had a rigging up with a bucket that the littlest one needed no encouragement to jump in and be shown how they rig up patients.
NZ Fire Service
The boys had seen smoke and ran to investigate. To their delight the Fire Service had a fire which they were lighting, letting the kids put it out with a fire extinguisher, and lighting it again for another turn. Needless to say they happily queued.