YES programme comes to the Hokianga

4 May 2016, 9:29 AM

Young people from many communities in the Hokianga have jumped at the chance to build hands-on emergency services skills in a training programme that kicks off this weekend. 

Thirty-five young people applied for 18 available places on the Hokianga’s first opportunity to host the four-week national Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme.

“This is the highest number of nominations we’ve received in the three years the programme has been running in Northland,” says Shona Morgan, spokesperson for Northland’s YES co-ordinating work group. “The nominations have come through schools and support service agencies, who have put forward the young people in their communities who could benefit from the experience.”

This weekend the young people will begin their hands-on training with St John and NZ Red Cross, learning triage, basic first aid and disaster ground-based rescue.  Throughout the programme, the students will experience the work of other key local emergency services including NZ Police, Coastguard, NZ Fire and Rural Fire.

Exercise at the Kawakawa/Moerewa YES programme 2015.Young people take part in a combined exercise at the Kawakawa/Moerewa YES programme in 2015.

Emergency scenarios and an exercise based on a mock disaster will be among the programme features.

Ms Morgan says the programme is designed to strengthen the connection between young people and their communities. Previous programmes have also resulted in a positive change in attitudes within communities towards the emergency services and stronger relationships between participating agencies.

Ms Morgan says as well as encouraging a more active participation in their local communities, the YES programme also helps participants develop useful practical skills as well as encouraging them to volunteer.

“Participants from previous programmes in Northland have gone on to become Fire Service volunteers and it’s a great entry into what a career in the emergency services could look like. It also enables a greater appreciation from the communities themselves about the value and contribution their young people can make.”

Meanwhile, she says at the conclusion of the programme, participants will attend a graduation ceremony with their families and be offered the opportunity to volunteer for two months with the emergency service of their choice.