There’s so many people to thank on Essential Services Day.
When Federated Farmers and many other agencies and organisations in the Team Ag/primary industries ‘family’ came up with the idea of saluting all those others who worked through last year’s Covid-19 lockdown, enabling us to continue producing top quality food and fibre, we soon realised it was quite a long list.
The meat plant workers, the mechanics, technicians and parts suppliers who helped keep tractors and milking sheds running, the milk tanker and sheep truck drivers, the vets, the rural GPs and district nurses, couriers/rural deliverers, not to mention the supermarket workers….
“Food is essential to human life, and in New Zealand’s case producing and exporting it is also a lifeblood of our economy,” Feds Vice-President Karen Williams says.
“The pandemic lockdown and Alert Levels have put all sorts of hurdles and restrictions in our path and the fact is farmers and growers would not have been able to continue as essential services through the lockdown were it not for the dedication and perseverance of lots of other Kiwis.
“Essential Services Day is about acknowledging their efforts.”
As the Federated Farmers spokesperson on workplace health and safety, Karen was especially keen to thank a service that is essential – and literally life-saving. We dropped in a morning tea to thank the team at the Wellington-based Life Flight Trust.
As someone who campaigns for farmers, farm workers and family members to use the right tool for the job, to put on safety gear and seatbelts and to properly assess risks before getting on with injury-risk tasks, Karen is all too aware of stories of when it has gone horribly wrong.
“Even in town where medical services are a few blocks away, it’s highly stressful when a vehicle crashes, or someone falls. That compounds when you’re out in the back-blocks, even more so when your farm has poor cellphone coverage. Delay can be fatal.
“It’s not hard to imagine the relief when those at a rural accident site hear the Westpac Rescue Helicopter approach, or the relief of a parent watching as a loved one is loaded into the Life Flight Air Ambulance plane for a short flight to a hospital that could otherwise have taken hours by car,” Karen says.
During the lockdown, the Life Flight team’s work was complicated by the precautions needed if there was any risk their patient might have Covid-19, including full use of PPE and disinfecting the aircraft after each mission. They continued flying 24/7, delivering 160 people to specialists medical care, including 27 premature babies.
“I’m sure farmers everywhere join Feds in a high-five to rescue helicopter trusts up and down the country, and to all the other essential services workers too.”