‘Red Cross mode’ saves day after dad’s fall

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When Steve Lowe lay injured after falling 5m from a scaffold platform and an ambulance was delayed, his wife Liz knew where to turn – their son Scott Savage.

A University of Otago student, Mr Savage (21) had learned first aid skills through a Red Cross programme six years earlier.

He was able to take command at the scene of his dad’s accident.

Mr Savage said because of a more than two-hour delay in the ambulance arriving – because there were several other higher-priority callouts at the same time – his mother called and asked him to help.

Mr Lowe’s injuries turned out to be whiplash.

But at the time of the accident earlier this year there were concerns about back and head injuries from the impact.

He had fallen while harnessed at the tyre company warehouse where he works and had swung into some shelving.

“I wasn’t taking any chances,” Mr Savage said.

He cautiously lowered his dad to the ground, elevating his legs on to some tyres, and was able to inform the paramedics of the situation when they arrived.

Mr Lowe said he had been impressed watching his son in “Red Cross mode”, speaking the same technical language as the paramedics and taking charge at the scene of the accident.

“He really knew what he was doing.”

The Red Cross youth preparedness programme trains senior high school pupils in emergency management.

He first joined the programme in 2011-13, at the suggestion of his mother, Mr Savage said.

Six years later, he is still involved in Red Cross emergency training, having since progressed to the disaster welfare and support team.

This had included being part of the Dunedin Red Cross team sent to Kaikoura after the earthquake last year.

He was involved with distributing food parcels and worked with several organisations offering advice and support for residents.

While the team of about 50 volunteers could be put on call 24/7 after an emergency, which was difficult to work around his health sciences study commitments, he enjoyed volunteering in the role, he said.

For more information on the youth emergency preparedness programme, contact Red Cross on (03) 477-1527 or email otago@redcross.org.nz.