Much needed donation

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Fodder beet bought the Omakau Volunteer Fire Brigade’s first response teams a brand new defibrillator and monitor unit.

Brigade chief fire officer Ian Rietveld said the brigade had recently replaced one of its vehicles, but about the same time their existing defibrillator unit failed and would have cost too much to repair.

“It was part of our five-year plan to replace it,” Mr Rietveld said.

However, in response, the organisers of the Central Otago Winter Feed competition donated the cost of a Lifepak 15 unit, about $33,500, to the brigade.

The unit, which is being imported from the United States, will arrive in about four weeks.

“We would have been fundraising like crazy,” Mr Rietveld said.

“This is literally a life saver for us.”

Nearly $70,000 was raised from the competition and the auction that was held as part of the formal prizegiving dinner on May 12, which attracted about 220 people.

The balance of the money raised will be divided between Poolburn and Omakau schools for resources and the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club for new clubrooms.

Mr Rietveld said the unit was used by the first response team to measure a patient’s vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate and also gave complex electrocardiogram (ECG) readings.

“It is an incredibly vital piece of equipment.

“It can transmit all the patient’s vital signs to the hospital or helicopter via Bluetooth, and will provide initial base lines for the hospital.

“It is also compatible with St John’s equipment.

“It is a robust machine for out in the field.”

He said the brigade’s first response team answered 30 to 50 callouts a year, ranging from medical traumas and accidents to cardiac arrests and allergy reactions.

About a third of the patients are transported by rescue helicopter.

The brigade was extremely grateful to the Central Otago Winter Feed competition organising committee, because without the donation, it would have had to wait about five years before being able to afford to buy one.

Competition committee chairman Paul McCarthy said the inaugural competition attracted about 80 entries and he was grateful for Rabobank’s sponsorship.