In praise of fire brigade volunteers

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Thank you, volunteers.

At the end of July, I had the pleasure of throwing a little thank you shout for the Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade.

It always amazes me the selfless work groups of volunteers do.

Here we have a group of about 12 – I say about, as the numbers do go up and down and they are always on the lookout for new members.

The majority of them work a full day’s work, but are then always willing to turn out and help when there’s a fire, someone makes a mistake on the road or has a medical event.

Don’t get me wrong, they are no different from volunteers throughout the Waitaki or up and down the country – it was just great to be able to say thank you. Often we don’t say thank you enough.

It was so interesting to watch, not only the fact they all turned up and paraded and listened to the messages being given.

They then spent 30-45 minutes listening to me talk about what I do and, if that wasn’t enough, spent another hour and a-half, training on knots and checking equipment.

They do all this so they would be ready for an assessment next week to make sure they can continue to volunteer.

I heard a few requests from them.

One of those was something so simple and we can all do it.

It will make the job they do so much easier and safer.

That is for people to just stick to the road rules when driving through a crash scene.

It’s not a big ask. If you are allowed to drive past a crash, give them as much room as you can and drive at no more than 20kmh.

I have my own experiences of dealing with crashes, especially people concentrating on looking at the crash scene, rather than how they are driving. I guess they are hoping to see some blood and gore.

On more than one occasion and due to them not paying attention, they crash and then the situation only becomes more dangerous and trickier to deal with.

The people who volunteer never do this to be in the spotlight, but they are the backbone of so many different activities that happen.

As Elizabeth Andrews said, “volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart”.

As a community we need to reduce the number of people being seriously hurt or killed in our road crashes.

I have no doubt that when these volunteers turn up and the professional attitude they approach a scene, they save lives and stop injuries becoming serious or life threatening.

So, please, the next time a fire engine, ambulance or police car comes up behind you with its lights flashing and sirens on, think to yourself, “they are on their way to help someone I love”.

Drive at a consistent speed and pull over and let them past when safe to do so.

Let’s all drive safer, Waitaki.

Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council’s road safety co-ordinator