The Herald is this week profiling some of our emergency service heroes who have hidden talents or other jobs.

A constant buzz follows intensive care paramedic Casey Drum wherever he goes.

If it is not the juddering of the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter for which he is crewman, then it is the vibrational pulse produced by a swarm of honeybees.

The West Aucklander divides his time between saving lives and backyard beekeeping.


The former began as a career move after Drum travelled the world as a whitewater rafting guide and sought to find a more settled vocation that utilised his skills.

"I thought working in emergency services was a really good fit as I knew how to be calm when things are not calm," he said.

Drum trained to be an intensive care paramedic before joining the St John ambulance service, a position that would pave the way for his next step into aeromedical services.

He now works shifts for the St John based in Te Atatu Peninsula, as well as the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Drum enjoys the variety of the work and the unusual situations it presents.

"I either work as a single intensive care paramedic, or with a doctor, so we effectively provide clinical care in any respect.

"If you can imagine anything that could possibly go wrong with anyone, then we have pretty much got the tool to fix it."

Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter flight intensive care paramedic Casey Drum.
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter flight intensive care paramedic Casey Drum.

As a rescue helicopter paramedic, Drum is also tasked to be a wire man and rescue swimmer.

"If there is someone in the bush or in an inaccessible area then I will hook onto the winch hook and be winched in with some rescue devices to extricate them," he said.

Drum has faced some "pretty nasty" situations.

He said learning not to get emotionally involved and not bringing the stories home with him is an important part of the job.

"It is good to remove yourself from that sort of thing, which is difficult sometimes, but you rely on good training and making sensible decisions."

Drum uses his beekeeping husbandry to distance himself from the stress.

"What got me into beekeeping was, I developed a habit of having a few drinks and getting on Trade Me so every now and then something odd would show up that I had purchased," he said.

"I didn't know anything about beekeeping so I just got a hive of bees and learnt from there. That was 7-8 years ago now."

He said the manual task of caring for the bees, combined with a small furniture making business he runs, allows him to completely switch off from his work.

"The reason for buying beehives was never intended to be a form of escapism but it does work as that, as it is something you can concentrate on that is completely removed from what I do on the job.

"That has to be good for you," he said.