The fire chief of the Upper Rakaia volunteer fire brigade is being airlifted to hospital after collapsing at training.

Fortuitously, that training happened to be first-aid lessons being carried out by St John ambulance staff.

Southern Fire and Emergency NZ shift manager Mau Barbara said a helicopter was called to the station this morning. The fire chief had been airlifted to hospital.

Barbara said they had the appropriate St John staff on hand to help the fire chief as they waited for the chopper to arrive.

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A St John spokeswoman confirmed they transported one patient to Christchurch Hospital in a moderate condition.

The Upper Rakaia rural fire brigade is part of the rural firefighting force based up at Double Hill Station, near Mt Hutt, west of Christchurch.