Smoke, helicopters and rescue vessels were the order of the day on Saturday for a group of Hokianga youngsters taking part in an emergency services exercise.

Nineteen young people from a range of Hokianga schools and communities have been learning hands-on emergency services skills through the national Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme. On Saturday, as part of the final exercise in a four-week training programme, the youngsters faced a number of emergencies.

Their new-found skills - including triage and first aid, land and water-based rescue and firefighting - were put to the test with an exercise that saw them face mock accident victims in the water and missing and injured people on land. There was also a wildfire to contend with.

It also involved a total of about 75 people, with contributing agencies including police, the Fire Service, Rural Fire, St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Hokianga Coastguard and a private Salt Air helicopter.