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New skills saves life

26 Jun 2020

New skills saves life

Fred never thought he would be putting his newly-earned first aid qualification to use so quickly . . . nor did he think it would save the life of a close family friend.

He’s a new recruit to the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme and as part of his wheels, tracks and rollers course with Load Out Solutions, he completed the first aid qualification on Monday and Tuesday. As he was leaving the course on Tuesday he got the call from a good mate who asked him to help find his father who had failed to return from being out on the farm.

It’s a property Fred –  who asked only that his first name is used – knew  well, having spent much of his growing up there. The man they were searching for was in his late 60s and someone Fred considered a step-father. As the five were heading out just before 6pm, the horse the man had been riding turned up at the homestead. “We were all very worried,” said Fred. “I was particularly worried about him given the temperature, weather and time of day.”

As it turned out, it was Fred who found him. He and the horse had tumbled 5-6m off a track. “He was still in the creek when I found him and very cold so my first thought was to get into my birthday suit and warm him up.”

He called the other searchers and after warming the man up, got him up onto a horse for a 45 minute ride to where the four by four vehicle could meet them. Then it was an hour-and-a-half trip to the main road and the same again to Gisborne Hospital where they arrived at around 6am. The man was admitted to hospital and kept under observation until Wednesday evening before being released. His family have said he’s not allowed back on a horse for some time.

When Fred turned up at his course on Wednesday morning, Fred made a beeline for Load Out Solutions owner Guy Allan. “I shook his hand so many times to thank him for doing the first aid course otherwise I just wouldn’t have had the skills to put to use. It all came out like clockwork.”

Guy, a volunteer fireman for 18-plus years, was hugely impressed with the efforts of his charge. “Fred is a very quiet chap and in the beginning wasn’t even sure he wanted to be here. He’s just not one for the spotlight. For him to perform like he did is so impressive. I know what he stepped into and am just so impressed.”

Fred is still working to come to terms with what happened. “There is still a lot going through my mind,” he says. “I just never thought I would be in that situation. This whole course is really outside my comfort zone but I am starting to find my way in it.”

Before joining the Redeployment Programme, which aims to assist local workers affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Fred worked as a bin maker at a pack house. “I was just on my couch when I heard about this course and jumped at it.”

But it wasn’t without a few reservations. “I have a fear of big machinery,” admits Fred. But with a brother who is a digger specialist urging him on, he stepped up to the challenge.

“I am slowly getting more confidence driving them though. The qualifications I am gaining through this programme means a lot – it means I have something under my belt that lets me go and find another job.”

Load Out Solutions are contracted through the Truck and Heavy Machine Operator Training Trust by the Ministry of Social Development to deliver courses for the programme.

The $23.755m Redeployment Programme is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and overseen by Gisborne District Council. It encompasses five projects and looks to ensure the 200-odd workers gain new skills, qualifications and exposure to the opportunity of meaningful, long term employment.


Fred (left) used his new first aid qualifications to immediate use on Tuesday night, saving the life of a long-time friend. He chats to Load Out Solutions owner Guy Allan who is providing some of the training for the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme. Photo by The Black Balloon