Tue, Jul 12, 2022 11:41 AM

Handling high pressure


Staff reporter

Lee-Anne Kruger began her journey with Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) as business support administrator.

She started to understand and get interested about what firefighters were doing and decided to join as a volunteer in Frankton.

Lee-Anne’s first ever callout was one she answered the phone to herself, she took the call to a house flooding, made the 111 call then jumped on the fire truck.

On arrival she said “Hi, I was the one you spoke with on the phone.” They proceeded to pump out the house and she helped keep the children entertained amongst all the anxiety of the event.

The training to become a Volunteer Fire-fighter was awesome, “I lost weight, became fitter, healthier and became much more aware of my own capability. I learned how to deal with high pressure situations as well as becoming a more compassionate person”.

Since her training Lee-Anne has become a Volunteer Support Officer (VSO) for FENZ brigades in rural and urban Marlborough, it’s a role she loves because it suits her personality,

“I love getting things done but also enjoy supporting others to be more self-sufficient and resilient. I like to encourage brigades to focus on reduction as well as response because property is replaceable, but lives aren’t” Lee-Anne says.

As a VSO she supports nine brigades and can be seen responding on any of the nine fire trucks if she happens to be in the vicinity of the station, Lee-Anne trains with all the brigades so she is familiar with the way they do things and the equipment they carry.

The first really challenging call for Lee-Anne was a CPR call, she was called to an older man who had collapsed of a cardiac arrest while running around the park.

The man’s wife, who never usually left him while he was running, went to the supermarket and came back to find him undergoing CPR with Fire, Ambulance and Rescue Helicopter in attendance.

The poor woman was standing there with the bread and milk, “I took the role of welfare and supported this woman which was really hard as I had to struggle to retain my own composure to stay strong for the person I was helping.”

If you are thinking about becoming a volunteer with FENZ Lee-Anne’s advice is that you are a lot stronger than you think you are.

“I didn’t think I had the guts to do the job but throughout the role you learn to be more resilient and as a bonus you get another family out of it!”

It’s not all about firefighting there are plenty of roles that enable you to support the brigade and community Lee-Anne says. “if you are thinking about joining I recommend you pop down to your local brigade on a training night and say hello, it can be a great way to make connections and locals have a big advantage in their area because they know the lay of the land, where resources are and how to get to places.”
Darren Crawford, snr advisor community readiness & recovery says the role has its challenges, but the rewards and comradery are substantial, which is why many stay on for decades.

"I have great admiration for our volunteers, they are humble and act with great integrity and professionalism.”

FENZ have many support roles that communities can help with that don’t require attending emergencies. To learn more, check out www.fireandemergency.nz.

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