Friday, 26 April 2019


Road Crash Rescue team back from world challenge in South Africa

The Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Road Crash Rescue Team - Spida Mangin, Grassy Mangin, Julian Lee, Dallas Martin, Sean King and James Stops - have last week returned from the World Road Crash Rescue Challenge that was held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The team qualified for the challenge by winning the Australasian Road Crash Rescue Challenge held in Hamilton in 2017. “The challenge in Cape Town was a real eye opener for us, not only in terms of the challenge itself, but life in general in Cape Town,” says Roly Chaney, Chief Fire Officer of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade, who accompanied the team as manager and coach.

The result was not what the team have hoped for. They placed 25th out of 31 teams. The event was won by a team from South Wales in the UK, followed by Consorcio De Valencia (Spain) and RSB Lisboa (Portugal).

“It was great to see teams from all over the world come together to compete and share different techniques on how to remove patients from car accidents,” says Roly. “We’ve also had the privilege of trying out new cutting gear that has been developed in the USA. The gear is a little bit heavier than what we currently use, but it seems to be more powerful as we could cut a tow ball and a steering column, which we can’t do with our present tools.

“The challenge was run a bit differently from what we’re used to, which threw us a bit. We didn’t have 10 minutes to check all our equipment, like we usually do, and our medics, who are only basic first aiders, were judged against fully professional paramedics and advanced paramedics. Most of the other teams were all career fire fighters. One of the teams from America were all placed on the same watch just so they could train every day for the challenge.

“We’re proud that we showed the world what New Zealand is made of. We gave it our all. The crowd loved the haka we performed on the last day of the challenge.

“There was a heat wave while we were in Cape Town. The first day of the challenge the temperature hit 40°C and of course we were dressed in black boots, black overalls and black helmets!”

“After looking around Cape Town, we’ve soon realised how lucky we are to be living in New Zealand. We’re not used to having people coming up to you in the street begging for money or food, some as young as 11 or 12. And seeing where some of the people live, sleeping under a piece of cardboard next to the main motorways or just sleeping on the street.

“Driving to Athlone Stadium where the challenge was held was also an eye-opener. The stadium wasn’t far away from what we would call slums, hundreds of small tin shacks only centimetres apart from each other, housing thousands of people. The rubbish around these areas was just unbelievable.

“While we were in Cape Town, they had a fire in one of the slums, destroying hundreds of shacks, taking many lives and leaving thousands homeless. We measured one of the slums next to the motorway using the trip meter of our rental car. It was 4.5km long and we had no idea how far back in it went.

“The people in Cape Town are like us in New Zealand very friendly and the food was amazing. Overall it was an experience none of us would ever forget.”

The team had to fundraise extensively to go to South Africa. They would like to thank the Whitianga community who never said no to buying one of their mussel fritters as well as their sponsors - The Mercury Bay Informer, Peninsula Roofing & Scaffolding, Yuasa Batteries, Esplanade Apartments, Coastal Signs, The Auto Barn, Guthrie Bowron Whitianga, Whiti City Cabs, The Lions Club of Whitianga, The Mercury Bay Lioness Club, the Australasian Road Rescue Organisation, the United Fire Brigades Association of New Zealand, BP New Zealand and the Matarangi, Matamata, Tapu, and Titarangi Volunteer Fire Brigades and Rural Fire Forces.

“We also would like to thank our wives and partners and all the members of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade for allowing us to train for the last seven months and for holding the fort at home and at the Whitianga Fire Station while we were away,” says Roly.

Pictured are the members of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Road Crash rescue team during the recent World Road Crash rescue Challenge that was held in South Africa. Beck, from left to right - Spida Mangin, Dallas Martin, James Stops and Roly Chaney. Front - Sean King (left) and Julian Lee.



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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.