Geoff has been with the Rescue Helicopter since 1999, firstly as a volunteer, and from 2012, as the Trust’s fulltime Crewman. In this interview, we ask Geoff about his role…
What’s a typical day look like for you Geoff?
There’s no such thing as a typical day working at the Rescue Helicopter! I’m constantly waiting for the pager to go off to signal we have been called to a rescue – whether that’s when I’m in the hangar or at home. When I’m in the hangar, which is most days from 9am, my duties include administrative tasks such as scheduling training for our volunteer crewmen, checking equipment and gear to make sure that the crew is ready to go as soon as we get the call.
What are your duties on a mission?
It really depends on the nature of a mission. Generally, I act as a second pair of eyes for the pilot, helping with navigation and ensuring that landing zones are safe. I also co-ordinate with the flight team and ground staff, load equipment onto the helicopter, and complete safety checks before the helicopter takes off. On missions that require it, I will operate the winch, and take on other duties such as at accident scenes, where I will liaise with other emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance crews, and help with other tasks such as stopping traffic. I am also a qualified ambulance officer, and have volunteered with St John’s for several years, so sometimes my duties will be medical support for a patient.
Did you have to study to be a crewman?
Becoming a crewman for the rescue helicopter requires a lot of training. We have to have a good level of fitness, we have to have specialist training for use of equipment, and we have to make sure that our training is up to date so that we are prepared for any emergency. Because I have a keen interest in health, I have personally studied my National Diploma in Ambulance Practice, and I am also currently studying for my Bachelors of Health Science BHSc (Paramedic).
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love the unpredictability of the role – no two days are the same – and I love the fact that I am helping to keep the people of Hawke’s Bay safe.
And the worst?
Honestly, there is nothing I dislike about my job. In fact, sometimes I wish I was two people so that I never have to take a day off!