First female West Coast Crew Member: Kirsty Mann
Briefly describe your professional history (past education/jobs)
I’m originally from Scotland and travelled to New Zealand in 2005 after finishing university. I began volunteering with St John ambulance in Queenstown the following year and started working full time as an ambulance officer in 2008. I completed a BHSc in paramedicine and worked in various metropolitan, rural and remote locations around the South Island over the years. Since working with the rescue helicopter I’ve continued with postgraduate study, including papers in aeromedical retrieval and resuscitation.
How long have you been a ROA Mining Rescue crew member?
Eighteen months. I started with the team in January 2019 as a Flight Intensive Care Paramedic, and a year later began training as a crewman and winch operator.
What motivated you to become a Rescue Crew member?
I had an introduction to rescue helicopter operations in Queenstown early on in my career and hoped it would be something I could come back to once I’d gained more experience in the industry. I really enjoy working in rural and remote environments and wanted to provide advanced care to patients in those areas, which is possible with the rescue helicopter. I also had the opportunity to become a winch operator, and it doesn’t get much more exciting than being out on the skid!
What is your favorite part of the job?
It’s hard to pick one! I’m part of a great team, we have the privilege of being able to help people in their time of need, and we see some spectacular landscapes on our travels.
Briefly describe one or two missions that stick in your mind the most/had the greatest effect on you:
We had a mission during the first week of Covid-19 lockdown to a motor vehicle accident and landed in the middle of the road in a residential area. There were a lot of people at the scene and watching from their front gardens, we were working in PPE, and when I got to the vehicle I realized I knew the injured patient and his son. We always want to do our best to treat and care for patients, but there’s added pressure when it’s someone you know.
What are your main interests outside of work?
Back country horse trekking and dryland sled dog sports.
What advice would you give to aspiring rescue crew members?
If this is what you want to do, start building the experience you need now – aeromedical knowledge, outdoor experience, navigation skills, strength/fitness training, etc. You need to be able to look after yourself in challenging environments in order to look after the patient too.
What is something that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?
That the years of study and training would definitely be worth it and in ten years’ time I’d have the best job in the world!