Original article on: Voxy Major New Zealand landmarks will light up in honour of our paramedics and first responders this International Paramedics Day.
As part of a worldwide tribute to the lifesaving mahi frontline workers do, Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free Ambulance will stand united in celebration this Saturday, 8 July.
Created by the College of Paramedics in the United Kingdom and launched last year, International Paramedics Day highlights the life-changing differences paramedics and first responders make to people’s lives and showcases the incredible diversity in the field of paramedicine and pre-hospital emergency care, across a variety of roles and locations.
To mark the occasion on Saturday, several New Zealand landmarks will be lit up in yellow and green - the colours of our ambulances in New Zealand. Locations include Auckland’s Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge, and Christchurch’s New Brighton Pier, Bridge of Remembrance, Bowker Fountain in Victoria Square, and the Fanfare sculpture on State Highway 1 leading north from the city.
Last year, Hato Hone St John’s paid and volunteer ambulance officers responded to 420,407 incidents nationwide and Wellington Free Ambulance responded to over 52,000 incidents across Great Wellington and Wairarapa. Combined, the two emergency ambulance services have almost 4,000 ambulance officers serving communities across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Peter Bradley, Hato Hone St John Chief Executive says recent developments including the introduction of paramedic registration in 2021, the double-crewing of emergency ambulances, and the introduction of extended care paramedics, means ambulance officers are making inroads in delivering improved patient outcomes.
"We are tremendously grateful for all our ambulance staff, whether they are on the road or in our ambulance communications centres, who continue to make a difference to New Zealanders under an increasingly busy health sector, not least the lifesaving work they have carried out during recent severe weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic."
Dave Robinson, Wellington Free Ambulance Chief Executive, says International Paramedics Day is a chance to thank "all our people for what they do every day."
"As the chief supporter I see courage, sacrifice and resilience that has an amazing impact in our communities. Our paramedics and teams save and change lives every day with their expert clinical care and compassion," he says.
Hato Hone St John Paramedic Alana Murphy has been stationed in Motueka, near Nelson, since March this year after completing her degree in paramedicine from AUT. Alana has been with the organisation for six years, starting her journey as a first responder before qualifying as an emergency medical technician and advancing to paramedic level.
Ms Murphy started as a volunteer with Hato Hone St John after being involved with medical callouts when volunteering with Fire and Emergency New Zealand. "I was convinced to come along on an observer shift on the ambulance and was hooked pretty quickly! Then with the encouragement of a few amazing colleagues, I decided the degree and being a paramedic was something that I could achieve and do well in."
Ms Murphy says the biggest challenge so far in her paramedic career has been, "Learning to back myself and putting faith in the decisions I make," and she loves how no two days are the same.
"It's nice being able to do a job which challenges you and pushes you to continue learning to stay on top of your game. You never know what your day holds and you have to be prepared for anything, and every so often we can make a real difference to someone's life which is a pretty neat feeling."
She says paramedic registration is a positive development for the profession. "It will be interesting to see what opportunities arise for paramedics in the coming years. We also need to be very proactive and take accountability for our own learning and competence, which I believe is a good thing."
Wellington Free Ambulance Intensive Care Paramedic Tor, who has been an ambulance officer with the organisation for 42 years, says a lot has changed since he first joined in 1980.
"I remember how frightening it was at the start. You could have a patient who was really sick, and you didn’t always have the equipment or manpower or pharmacological knowledge, but you knew that without you this person might die. The ambulances were single-crewed back then, and you had to make important life or death decisions on your own."
Being an ambulance officer is a much more complex job now, he says. "We have a lot more knowledge of pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, there are more drugs we can administer, and we have to do a lot more decision making. Over the last 42 years it has been amazing to see our skills and equipment advance so much."
Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free Ambulance are joining their Australasian ambulance colleagues in thanking all ambulance officers for the wonderful work they do.