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YES programme comes to Whangarei

23 Apr 2019, 10:48 AM

Seventeen young people from across Whangarei district are about to learn hands-on emergency services skills and challenge themselves through the Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme, kicking off in May.

The five-week programme, for 16- to 19-year-olds, begins on Saturday 4 May with training in firefighting and use of rescue tools by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

People standing beside a car.Participants in last year’s YES programme assess the condition of ‘casualties’ in a crashed car, under the guidance of trainers from NZ Red Cross and St John.

The remainder of the programme will see participants learning triage, basic first aid and disaster ground-based rescue from St John and NZ Red Cross, followed by water rescue from Surf Life Saving and search, navigation and land rescue from NZ Police.

Shona Morgan, spokesperson for Northland’s YES co-ordinating work group, says 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 attend a graduation ceremony with their families and are offered the opportunity to volunteer with the emergency service of their choice.

YES is funded by the Ministry of Youth Development, and this will be the seventh time the programme has been run in Northland, with more than 110 young people so far taking part. The last time it was held in Whangarei district was in Bream Bay in 2016.

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.

She 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 and Emergency, Surf Life Saving and Coastguard volunteers and Police recruits 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.”