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Emergency services Whitianga came out in the sunshine – and so did the people to support the event.

Justin Murphy has been with Land, Search and Rescue for eight years and Karl Baldwin is a relatively new recruit having joined three or four months ago. Both were very keen to serve their community in some way when they came to Whitianga.
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I live out of town, says Justin. “This means I cannot respond immediately to fire or sea emergencies. I always wanted to be a volunteers from the time I arrived in Whitianga,” says Karl.

“This fits in with my work where I can’t be on call for immediate emergencies.”

Both men enjoy the challenge and the training to be at readiness as well as the friendships they are making. “Searching for a missing person in New Zealand bush can mean pushing you backpack in front of you, just to be able to move forward,” says Justin.

On the hour the fire brigade gave a very valuable lesson to onlookers as to what to do if a kitchen house fire starts.

Fire Brigade Officer, Karlos Bosson ably hosted these sessions. It was very dramatic at the point where one of the firemen demonstrates what happens if a cup of water is poured on a fire ignited by hot oil – flames flared immediately and very high to the gasps of the all-age audience.

 Whitianga Fire Chief, Roly Chaney, calmly explained and demonstrated how all that he did to calm and extinguish the fire could be done in normal house clothes and with materials in the kitchen such as a damp tea towel and a wooden chopping board.  People certainly got and appreciated the message.

The Whitianga Coastguard had just been through a very busy time with seven call-outs, back-to-back, on Wednesday, 27 December.

“Some were mechanical breakdowns, one was a leak, another a capsized boat. Those seven callouts involved about ten children in all with their families,” said Diane Philips, who does administration for the Whitianga Coastguard.

“We encourage people to get membership in the Coastguard,” says Miles Flower, a qualified Senior Crew.

“It’s only $130 and it is the best insurance policy you can have if you are boating on holidays or at any time of the year on the Coromandel.

Mike Reihana was the other Coastguard qualified Senior Crew on hand for the Festival to answer questions and promote the work of the Coastguard. Mike and Miles were pleased to announce that the Coastguard Lottery, their main national fundraiser, had sold out.

Shar-ron Hillary, Ambulance Officer for St Johns Ambulance was kept very busy testing blood pressure and explaining how their equipment saves lives. She was a very real attraction, giving out stickers to the children and as she placed the sticker, she would say, “This is on the side where your heart is.”

Later in the day, Genie Slement of the Police Force spent time with families demonstrating on request her equipment to sting or stop a car in its tracks. This was of great appeal to the young people as was her taser. She was not tempted by any of the young ones asking her if she could try out her taser then and there.

 Genie’s careful explanation and her focus on the children brought about so much positive sentiment. This annual Emergency Services Summer Festival provides a very valuable service to residents and holiday visitors as well as being informative and enjoyable.  The community could not function safely without them.

Caption: Whitianga Fire Chief, Roly Chaney demonstrating how to put out a kitchen fire.