YES programme comes to the Kaipara

3 May 2017, 11:19 AM

Eighteen Kaipara young people are about to test their ability to handle water rescues, missing and injured people and fires in the district’s first opportunity to host the national Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme.

The five-week programme, which teaches hands-on emergency services skills, begins on Saturday 13 May 2017 at Kai Iwi Lakes, where the young people – aged between 16 and 18 – will be trained by Surf Life Saving and NZ Police search and rescue.

The remainder of the programme will see them learning firefighting and use of rescue tools from NZ Fire and Rural Fire/Department of Conservation, followed by triage, basic first aid and disaster ground-based rescue from St John and NZ Red Cross.

The highlight of the programme is a combined exercise based around a mock disaster, requiring the young people to draw on all of their new-found skills, judgement and teamwork.

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.

YES is funded by the Ministry of Youth Development, and this will be the fifth time the programme has been run in Northland, with a total of 65 young people so far taking part.

Shona Morgan, spokesperson for Northland’s YES co-ordinating work group, said the Kaipara programme has been over-subscribed, with high schools and the community nominating 25 young people for the 18 available places.

She 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 and Coastguard volunteers and it provides a great insight 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.”