Top speed re­sponse

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

When the in­ter­is­land fer­ries are ter­mi­nal­bound by big seas, Welling­ton Air­port’s fire­fight­ers are likely to take their boats out to train.

Air­port fire ser­vice head Vin­nie Sharp said there is water at both ends of Welling­ton’s run­way, so staff have to be ready to fight fire on water as well as on land, at any time and in any con­di­tions.

In the Avi­a­tion Fire Ser­vice build­ing at the air­port, along­side the fire ten­ders, two sub­stan­tial fire res­cue boats wait on their trail­ers, with their tow ve­hi­cles al­way warmed up, ready to go.

‘‘We are ac­tu­ally the clos­est to Cook Strait; time is of the essence here,’’ he said.

‘‘From the time the alarm goes we can have this boat back­ing off the trailer ready to go in four min­utes.’’

As well as watch­ing over the sur­round­ing water, the avi­a­tion fire ser­vice at­tends be­tween 600 and 700 emer­gency call- outs each year.

The most fre­quent rea­son is med­i­cal emer­gency at the air­port.

‘‘ We’re there dan­ger.

‘‘ Whether

an

if

life

is in

air­craft

is in­volved or not, the crew will go,’’ he said.

The fire­fight­ers are all trained to pre­hos­pi­tal med­i­cal care level and if first aid is all that is re­quired they will treat pa­tients and send them on their way.

If more is needed, they will deal with the emer­gency, and pre­pare the pa­tient for trans­fer to Welling­ton Hospi­tal.

Mr Sharpe said 80 per cent of air­craft in­ci­dents hap­pened on or near the air­port.

The ser­vice has four emer­gency ve­hi­cles, two of them high per­for­mance fire ten­ders. In the case of air­craft crash, the crew will get there as quickly as pos­si­ble and lay a bed of foam to sup­press fire, cre­at­ing sur­viv­able con­di­tions and al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to es­cape. The ser­vice’s re­sponse time is tested at least monthly.

‘‘We have be at the far end of the run­way in three min­utes,’’ Mr Sharp said.

Al­ways pre­pared: One of Welling­ton Air­port’s two fire res­cue ves­sels in ac­tion in heavy weather.

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