The Youth in Emergency Services Programme has been running since February this year. A group of 17 young people get a taste of what it is like to work in the various front-line Emergency Services. The first phase of the programme is theory and practical sessions with each of the six emergency services involved. The second phase, beginning after the school holidays, involves each young person volunteering for one of the services for 2 months for a couple of hours a week.
New Zealand’s Emergency Services are largely made up of volunteers. The aim of the programme is to get young people interested in emergency services and to consider volunteering in the future. Programmes like this one could provide a potential pipeline of young and enthusiastic volunteers to emergency services. More than anything, the programme gives young people great exposure to the range of things each service does and lets them meet and work alongside passionate, skilled volunteers. ‘Great to make connections between other youth in the Nelson Region, Emergency Service Personnel and Volunteer Nelson’ – Taylah Shuker, Participant.
The practical days have been filled with exercises which give a good introduction to the kinds of hands on skills needed. So far there has been everything from what to do lost at sea, to how to find and drag bodies from a building in the dark, to how to plan and set up a welfare centre in a state of emergency. One participant Saul Ramsay describes his reason for joining the programme as ‘decided to do this because I liked the idea of helping people plus putting out fires’.
This programme was possible thanks to the Ministry of Youth Development. There was a pilot programme in Rotorua last year and there are similar programmes running throughout the country this year. The culmination of this years programme will be a celebration event involving all the services and participants, held at the Fire Station in late June.