12 Days of Christmas: Rescue team helping to make a difference

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Shelly Beach volunteer fireman Adam Knezovich with types of rescue gear the organisation will buy with the money. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Shelly Beach volunteer fireman Adam Knezovich with types of rescue gear the organisation will buy with the money. Photo / Paul Estcourt

This Christmas the Herald is again featuring charities that have been selected for a $10,000 donation from Auckland Airport. The $120,000 to be distributed came from change given by travellers at the airport this year.

For those who have been lost, alone and hurt or in a life-threatening situation, seeing help in the form of a search and rescue team is literally a life-saver.

For this reason, Auckland Search and Rescue has been chosen by Auckland Airport as one of 12 charities to be given $10,000 this Christmas.

The non-profit organisation is the first to be profiled as part of a Herald series.

Made up of about 20 trained volunteer firefighters, the Auckland Search and Rescue team was formed after the Christchurch earthquake in February.

Executive officer and team leader Adam Knezovic said that during that time, members of what is now the group travelled to the city to provide immediate emergency help.

He said the men were struck forcibly by what they saw.

"There were no birds chirping ... there were buildings that you knew there were dead people in.

"It does something to your mind and you see those buildings and think, 'it is totally unfortunate that there are dead people there, but there are people that need rescuing. We have to get to them quickly'."

The volunteers, based in Shelly Beach, north of Auckland, saw the need for such an emergency and disaster relief group in their city and decided to form the charity.

Their $10,000 will go towards buying a patient rescue and retrieval kit, which is used when a patient is found, for example, in a collapsed building, under or cliff, and needs to be lowered to the ground by stretcher.

The money will also go towards buying a stokes basket and rescue lines; as well as personal safety equipment and protective gear.

Mr Knezovic said: "We do it because we just want to help people. We want to help save lives and that's why I think we are worthy of this grant."

Auckland Airport general manager corporate affairs Charles Spillane said the organisation had received hundreds of applications from charities around the country.

Mr Spillane said although it was difficult to choose just a dozen charities, those including Auckland Search and Rescue stood out.

"We feel very privileged to be able to help 12 organisations that dedicate their time to helping others."

Mr Knezovic thanked Auckland Airport for coming up with a scheme where ordinary people - travellers - were ultimately giving back to the community.

"I think it's wonderful what they've done ... they're obviously looking at community organisations that are helping people.

"It really is a show of the true Christmas spirit."

- NZ Herald

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