Feds concerned by 111 coverage

March 22, 2014

Federated farmers is concerned about emergency responsiveness and 111 coverage after it took a farmer about 30 minutes to get through to an operator after she trod in a wasps’ nest.

. . . “Given the 111 service is a rural lifeline, Federated Farmers was troubled to learn Janet Kelland struggled to get through for upwards of 30 minutes,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesperson.

“Telecom/Spark’s Telecommunications Service Obligation is relevant here because it must answer 111 calls within 15 seconds. 

“Federated Farmers is calling on Telecom/Spark to make sure it meets its TSO obligations and a formal complaint from Janet would help to trigger this. 

“Cellular network performance at the time needs to be looked into as well as the mapping software being used by the ambulance call centre.  A farmer repeatedly stung by wasps could have died for want of a connection.

“After getting clear Janet rang 111 and sometimes it would ring she told us and sometimes there was silence.  While cell reception can be random in rural areas she has reception on her farm and good reception from where she tried to call from.

“Janet told Federated Farmers that it took 30-minutes before she got through to an operator.  Even then after asking for an ambulance she was cut off. 

“She did get through but when she gave her address the operator insisted it did not exist.  While Janet resorted to some agricultural language, who could blame her given she was in agony.

“Clearly there are several issues that need to be looked at.  There also seems to be a pressing need to review mapping software because Janet’s address is in the White Pages.

“We note the 2012 review said that the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will be working with emergency service providers and the telecommunications sector to investigate new technology. 

“Now seems a good time to start,” Mrs Milne concluded.

Mobile coverage is variable in the country but with RAPID (Rural Address Property Identification Numbers) there should be no problem with an address.

We’ve called 111 twice.

The first time was the night our son stopped breathing.

I started CPR while my farmer called for help. In those days 111 calls went to the local hospital and the man who answered the phone used to shear for us. As soon as he knew it was my farmer he said he’d tell the ambulance how to get there and told my farmer to hang up, ring our GP.

The second time was last December towards the end of a party when one of the guests stumbled, fell and knocked himself out.

I dialled 111, got straight through, had no problem with the address and the ambulance was here in less than 30 minutes.

However, both those calls were from landlines.

Staff who’ve had to call emergency services from our farm have managed to do so without problems, but there’s an element of luck in that they happened to be where they had reasonable coverage when they needed it.

Even in the 21st century you can’t expect 100% mobile coverage but you shouldn’t have to argue about your address.

When the fire alarm went off . . .

December 8, 2011

. . .  at the Museum Hotel just after 11 last night I had several things to be grateful for:

I was still fully clothed.

I was able to grab a warm jacket on my way out of my room.

It was dry and wasn’t very cold outside.

There was no sign of panic from anyone.

The fire brigade arrived promptly, inspected the building and let us back inside in less than 20 minutes.

It was a false alarm.



Old ashes not always dead ashes

July 20, 2011

Every winter the fire service warns about the need to carefully dispose of ashes and every winter at least one fire is caused by someone who doesn’t follow that advice.

We’ve had a couple on the dairy farm in the past.

The first was caused when a worker put the ashes in a plastic bucket and put the bucket on the wooden verandah.

He rang to tell my farmer and said he’d put it out. My farmer told him to call the fire brigade anyway, went to check and found smoke coming from behind the wall boards.

The brigade got there just in time to stop the fire spreading into bird nests in the ceiling.

The second fire was caused by a staff member who put old ashes on a vegetable garden. Wind fanned them into life again and blew sparks into a macrocarpa hedge several metres away.

Neither of these examples was as bad as one covered in the media a couple of years ago. It told of someone who vacuumed up the ashes then put the vacuum cleaner in the hall cupboard where it burst into flames.

Timely reminder of need to take care

December 27, 2010

A sign warned us of a temporary reduction in the speed limit to 30kph.

We could see the charred remains of something ahead and feared the worst. As we got closer we saw it wasn’t the result of a car accident but what looked like a fire in a caravan.

Even though our initial fears of a major crash weren’t realised it was a timely reminder of the need to take care.

This clip Brutal – from Laughy Kate – reinforces that message (be warned it may be upsetting).

Three police cars and an ambulance

December 7, 2010

The usual peace of my morning constitutional was disturbed by the sound of a siren.

From my vantage point three quarters of the way up a hill I was able to watch a police car speed into the township, past the turnoff which would have taken it up to our road, and head further inland.

A few minutes later another siren heralded another police car and an ambulance. That was followed by a third police car.

As I was going back down the hill about 20 minutes later I saw the ambulance heading back to town at a sedate speed which suggested either no-one needed urgent help or everybody was beyond it.

The grapevine tells me it was the former – an altercation between a car and a truck had, thankfully, resulted in only minor injuries.

How can armchair experts know more than people at the coalface?

November 27, 2010

The mother of one of the miners trapped in the Pike River mine said she accepted he was dead as soon as she heard of the explosion.

Other miners knew this too.

West Coast miners knew their 29 mates at Pike River were a lost cause before the official announcement on Wednesday, a union convener in Solid Energy’s nearby Spring Creek pit says.

Pessimism was based on gas readings showing alarming levels of toxicity and the likelihood of further explosions, as the mine remained on fire, said Trevor Balderson, a night-shift development worker who heads a crew of six at Spring Creek, 40km from Pike River.

“The initial explosion wiped out all the infrastructure,” said Mr Balderson, who moved to the West Coast in 2008, after a Yorkshire colliery closed in 2002.

“If you talk to any coal mine workers anywhere in the world, the reality is that you do not survive an explosion if you are in the firing line,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.

This doesn’t stop armchair experts criticising the people in charge of rescue attempts and asking why a resuce wasn’t attempted sooner.

As I said in my first post on this tragedy, the first rule after an accident is to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse.

I posted on Wednesday morning about carrying hope in your heart even when your head knows that’s impossible.

The rescuers didn’t have the luxury of emotion, they couldn’t act from their hearts. They had to act from their heads in the knowledge they couldn’t endnager more lives when it was almost certain there was no-one left to save.

Some of the armchair experts are still calling for speed now it’s a recovery mission rather than a resuce.  But there is no case for risking more lives in the mine when, after three explosions and a fire, there are no longer any there to be saved.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed some real experts on this topic  yesterday morning.

And (hat tip: Keeping Stock)  Guy Body shows the destructive gas starting to disperse.

How long do you hope?

November 24, 2010

When we were told our then-16 week old son had a degenerative brain disorder and was likely to die soon I understood what we were being told, but I couldn’t, wouldn’t quite believe it.

Medical science isn’t infallible, there’s always the possibility of miracles . . .  in spite of the fact I knew neither of those were possible this time, I still clung to a tiny bit of hope.

Four weeks later when the doctor told me he had died, my first response was to say “pardon?”

It wasn’t that I didn’t hear him or understand, Tom was in my arms and I could see he wasn’t breathing.  I knew in my head that he’d gone, but my heart wouldn’t quite accept it.

That’s hope in the face of hopelessness and it’s not unusual.

Perhaps that’s how the families and friends of the men trapped in the Pike River mine feel. As every day goes past with nothing heard from deep inside the mine the outlook gets bleaker, but still they hope. 

The video of the blast  showed the severity of the explosion, but still, no-one wants to give up and say it’s a matter of recovery rather than rescue.

Yesterday the tone at the media conferences was more subdued, but still the mine management and rescue teams are trying to do everything possible, just in case.

And still, no matter how grim the outlook, unless there is evidence that it’s absolutely hopeless, people will continue to hope.

How long do you hope?

As long as you can.

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