Christmas Day duties: ‘It’s what we’ve got to do’

Constable Scott Turner, of Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

While most of us will be spending time with friends and family on Christmas Day, for some of Dunedin’s emergency service staff it’s business as usual. The Star reporters asked three Christmas Day workers:

1. What will Christmas Day be like for you at work?

2. How will you celebrate Christmas with loved ones?


1. I’m working in the road policing team and I’ve got a day shift on Christmas shift from 7am to 5pm. As it’s a public holiday we want to be visible everywhere on the roads and highways. The team are having a Christmas morning tea tomorrow but there’s nothing festive planned at work on Christmas Day sergeant has something planned we don’t know about.

2. Most of my family lives in Aussie and my mum is heading over there for Christmas lucky her her family have pushed out the start time of Christmas dinner so I can attend that in Dunedin. I’m not sure what we are having but I won’t be making any complaints to the mother-in-law.

Senior firefighter Andre Robichaud. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON


1. For us, things don’t really change. We still need to be operationally ready 365 days of the year. The only difference might be that we’ll have a potluck meal. In the grand scheme of things you probably spend just as much time with the guys at work as you do with your family, so it is literally a second family. People put a lot of effort into having a good meal.

2. I have two young boys (4 and 7), so we’ve already been in discussions about it. They know I have to work. They’re pretty upset but I’ll still go home and have a meal with my immediate family in the evening and unfortunately miss out on the present-opening. It comes in roundabouts turn to work and next year someone else will unfortunately have to do it. It is part of the job, realistically. I don’t think anyone begrudges anyone for it. It’s what we’ve got to do.

Dunedin Hospital duty manager Angeline Walker, pictured with children Zafrina (6) and Tyrian (13 months). PHOTO: SUPPLIED


1. My shift is from 9.45pm Christmas Eve until 7.45am Christmas morning. The hospital essentially continues business as usual, particularly overnight, at Christmas. Hopefully, the hospital will be more settled and a bit emptier than usual, meaning people are well and home with their families. My role is to provide operational management for the hospital, by trying to making sure the wards are appropriately staffed and patients are admitted to an appropriate ward from the emergency department, and troubleshooting any issues or incidents that arise within the hospital. The other part of my role is providing senior nursing support to the wards/departments, which could be anything from helping with an unwell patient, taking a patient for X-ray or CT, attending patient emergencies or cardiac arrests, along with sourcing medication or equipment. I work in a small team. There are seven duty managers there is one of us on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Due to the size of the team, we tend to need to work Christmas Day every second year.

2. When I finish work (hopefully on time at 7.45am), I will then join my husband Kirk, daughter Zafrina (6) and son Tyrian (13 months). We will drive to Invercargill to spend the next few days with my husband’s family. I will stay awake to see the children open some presents, I’ll have a ham sandwich for brunch and then I will sneak off to bed for three to four hours. Then I will get up in the early evening, ready for a relatively traditional Christmas dinner roast turkey and all the trimmings.