July 10, 2017

Making lifesaving practice possible

When a baby is suffering from a life-threatening illness, it can’t tell paramedics what’s wrong.

For staff at Wellington Free Ambulance, that makes treating infants a unique challenge, both clinically and emotionally, says fundraising advisor Rachel Carr.

“An infant’s condition can change extremely rapidly, as their bodies work a little differently to adults. Treating a baby is a combination of doing what’s needed for them, maintaining calm, and communicating with the parents and people around at the time. It’s probably the most stressful situation for everyone involved,” she says.

“It’s essential that staff get to practice life-saving techniques specific to young children so they can continually build confidence, and the recent purchase of a baby manikin will ensure that happens,” Rachel says.

“The Fonterra Grass Roots Fund helped us buy the manikin. It will be used to continually train and refresh paramedics in infant resuscitation, airway management, and other life-saving treatment for babies.

“Being able to practice possible scenarios on a realistic infant manikin makes a huge difference.”

Wellington Free Ambulance covers the greater Wellington and Wairarapa regions, providing the only emergency ambulance service in the area, and the only free emergency ambulance service in the country. It also runs the 111 Communications Centre in Wellington, supplies volunteer medics for public and sporting events and carries out patient transfers.

“We are only part funded by government, and have to raise more than $4million every single year to keep the service free, and to keep us at the leading edge of patient care,” Rachel says.

“We rely on groups such as the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund to pay for critical equipment. If we didn’t have access to this fund, we couldn’t have bought the manikin. Our training team leader, Kate, was very excited when the Fonterra funding came through!”

Each year, the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund helps up to 300 groups in New Zealand, supporting community initiatives through grants to, schools and educational groups, charities, sports clubs and local emergency services.

“It is our way of saying thank you to everyone who works so hard to make our communities great,” says Fonterra’s Global Sponsorship Manager Kane Silcock. “We love to support projects that make New Zealand a better, safer place to be, especially for our children.”

Wellington Free Ambulance turns 90 in November and the organisation is planning a birthday celebration which will involve its staff, supporters and the community it works in.

“More importantly, we want to be here and free for another 90 years, because we want the best possible care for our people,” Rachel says.