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“10th December 2020 – The day we almost lost a workmate”

“As a large New Zealand construction and civil engineering business, we’ve been on a bit of a Health & Safety journey in recent years. Working in high-risk industries, we decided to take a more holistic approach to not only ensure each of our Workers’ safety but their health and wellbeing too.

We started off using Life Care Consultants as our first aid training provider but in recent years have extended this to include pre-employment checks, ongoing health monitoring, as well as nutrition and mental health toolbox sessions. Since beginning this journey, we also decided that with so many employees and contractors moving around different work sites in any one day the best way to protect everyone was to ensure all field staff were First Aid trained. This company policy ultimately proved to be life-saving on one of our large roading projects in late 2020.

In September 2020, our team began work on a large rural civil roading project. On the morning of December 10th, one of our roller drivers got down from their machine and started experiencing discomfort in his arms and chest. Soon thereafter he collapsed. In a matter of seconds, multiple members of our team rushed over and realised all their hypothetical training was becoming very real. Our workmate remained conscious and lucid, however, both he and his fellow colleagues could sense he was in serious trouble. One of our team members quickly called 111 whilst another collected a locally available defibrillator a short drive from the site.

Once the defibrillator arrived it was prepared for use. Our team followed the prompts from the machine, though it didn’t activate due to the patient still having a heartbeat. Once ambulance staff arrived on the scene and stabilised him he was sent via helicopter to Waikato Hospital. The hospital later confirmed that our workmate had experienced a heart attack, however due to the quick actions of all the responders he was able to receive the lifesaving medical treatment needed. Our workmate returned to work two months later and was naturally a little worried about a relapse and how he would cope. We have since eased him back into the job and with a good support plan, he has regained his confidence and re-established his work comfort zone.

While I could easily call out the exemplary response of specific individuals, this was 100% a Team Response led in large part by our Safety Team. One of our Safety Advisors had months before the incident identified a gap in Emergency Response Training. He initiated and implemented a dedicated training program, aligned to our Lifecare First Aid Training. As a result, those on the ground dealing with the incident were able to respond to the event quickly, confidently and managed to reassure our workmate to keep him calm throughout the ordeal. Our traffic management team remained calm, temporarily shut both sides of the road explaining to motorists the reason for the temporary closure. They soon re-opened one lane to manage traffic flow ensuring both his and the general public’s safety. There’s no doubt we could’ve lost a good mate that day but due to the training and quick actions of our team, the outcome was a positive one.

As a manager/business, you can train your staff and run practice drills, but you never really know how your Team are going to respond in an emergency. All you can do is hope they will rise to the occasion and trust in their training. Thankfully our team had the knowledge, the training, and the confidence to intervene quickly and successfully, which is no doubt one of the key reasons our workmate is still with us today. We are very thankful of the final outcome for our workmate and I am extremely proud of the Entire Team!”

Anaru Waru
Project Manager
Inframax Construction

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