Welcome to Siren, a monthly round-up of key events and issues from local emergency services. In our first report, the issues that so often affect our coast and country in summer are predominant – heavy traffic, tinder-dry vegetation and an increased number of boats on the water.
Silverdale St John and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter responded to a fatal head-on collision on State Highway 1 north of Puhoi at Windy Ridge, on Wednesday, February 3. One driver died and ambulance officers treated a second patient before that person was airlifted to Auckland City Hospital in a serious condition. St John Rodney Territory Manager Megan Fairley said the accident was a reminder for all motorists to take care. “Our staff continue to see motorists following too closely and using cell phones while driving,” she said.
• Among the calls for Silverdale Fire Brigade was a vegetation fire in native bush alongside Ōrewa Estuary on February 3. The fire could quickly have got out of control, but was spotted by staff at Centrestage Theatre, who alerted the brigade. Meanwhile, Manly Volunteer Fire Brigade were grateful to ASAP Water’s Gavin Rhind, who let them use a tank of his water to tackle a vegetation fire on Wade River Road, where there was no reticulated water, on February 6.
• Hibiscus Coastguard has been extremely busy, mainly with mechanical breakdowns, according to crew chief Dave Tilley. “With a good number of these breakdowns, the problems started on their way out at the beginning of the day, but decisions have been made to continue on their day out, resulting in a callout for Coastguard, when a safer choice could have been to turn back when the problems started,” he said. Inadequate forms of communication have also caused problems, with a recent callout to a small boat in trouble that only had a mobile phone with a flat battery on board. “With the vessel drifting quickly, it took time to locate them, as there was no way to communicate to track their location,” Dave said. He said it is vital for all boaties to have several forms of communication, especially a VHF radio.