More medical callouts than fires for brigade

Arrowtown's volunteer firefighters are more likely to be called out to medical incidents than to fires.

Firefighter Steve Murch said if a medical incident was particularly urgent and it was likely a fire crew could get there faster, they were called upon to manage the situation before ambulance officers took over.

Arrowtown is about 15 to 20km away from the St John base in Frankton and Mr Murch said this was why the Arrowtown fire volunteers attended a higher number of medical incidents.

Ambulance communications called fire communications and the fire volunteers would be called out as they would for a fire.

''They [ambulance communications] would call us out if they were going to be delayed or if they needed a fairly urgent response,'' Mr Murch said.

Until recently, ''we were doing between 11 and 13 calls a month ... and seven or eight of those would have been medical''.

Of the 25 volunteers, 13 were trained in pre-hospital emergency care - a level up from first aid, which all are trained in.

Mr Murch also has an emergency medical diploma.

''We would respond as first aid but it's a lot nicer if you know a lot more - when you get a call, you never quite know what it's going to be.''

Usually, the ambulance officers were not far behind the fire crew.

''If we can get there two or three minutes faster than them, it's worth having us.''

St John Central Otago territory manager Kelvin Perriman said because of its distance from the St John base, the Arrowtown fire crew received a higher number of medical callouts compared with Frankton and Queenstown.

Last month, Queenstown volunteer firefighters were called to a Gorge Rd motel after a guest collapsed in his motel room.

They brought a defibrillator but the guest was unable to be revived.

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