Home' Central Canterbury News : May 8th 2013 Contents 2 May, 2013
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Cellphone no help in accident
By JOHN HOBBS
FRUSTRATED: Rhonda Ross, son Blair and Dorie Preschool head teacher Jude
Fitzgibbon are frustrated with the zero cellphone coverage after an incident where
Blair fell off his bike and was taken to Christchurch via Westpac rescue helicopter.
ISSUES OVER poor cellphone
reception and intermittent land line
coverage in rural areas of
Canterbury are being highlighted
following an incident in Dorie.
Two weeks ago, 3-year-old Blair
Ross fell off a bike at Dorie
Head teacher Jude Fitzgibbon said
staff heard him scream and then
their first aid training kicked in.
Blair was rushed inside and put
into the recovery position, while
emergency services were contacted
by landline telephone.
Mrs Ross said the boy was going in
and out of consciousness.
An ambulance was dispatched, as
were the Pendarves and Rakaia
volunteer fire brigades, and then the
Difficulties contacting Blair's
mother, Rhonda Ross, added to the
When Mrs Fitzgibbon tried to call
her, the phone was engaged, and
there is no cellphone coverage at
Dorie Preschool or on the Ross's
When the preschool finally got
through to Mrs Ross's husband,
emotions were running high.
It was a sheer panic, Mrs Ross
said. It seemed like an hour [to get
over to the preschool].''
When she arrived, two fire engines
were parked outside the school, an
ambulance was in the car park and
the Westpac rescue helicopter was in
The trip in to Christchurch
Hospital from Dorie took about nine
minutes in the helicopter.
Blair was kept in hospital
overnight and is now recovering
happily at home.
They didn't know what had
caused the unconsciousness, but
there was a small mark on his
forehead,'' Mrs Ross said.
They had it down as a head injury
and chose not to do a CAT scan,
because all the tests they did were
She said the emergency services
and the staff at the preschool were
amazing'' and did everything right.
The incident has drawn attention to
the inadequacy of cellphone coverage
in rural areas.
Mrs Fitzgibbon said the preschool
can lose landline service for almost a
full day at times.
Often, staff will have to drive
towards the highway just to make a
call on their cellphones.
This was not the first emergency
People shouldn't have to choose
where they live, based on cellphone
coverage. We're not a Third World
country. We've got very hard
working families out here that pay
their taxes like everyone else. It
shouldn't even be up for debate, it
should just be here,'' she said.
You can't live your life by what
if', but there is an element of risk.''
Mrs Ross said that not long before
the incident, their landline was out
of action for three days.
She even spoke to a representative
from Telecom about it, who told her
if there was an accident and their
phone was not working, they would
just have to hop in the car.
It needs to be improved for not
just me, but everybody in this area.
Weneedtohaveit. . ..''
Grow Mid Canterbury chief
executive Rob Brawley said the
organisation, with Federated
Farmers, Rangitata MP Jo
Goodhew's office, and local
businesses such as EA Networks and
West Farms Ltd, have received a
commitment from Telecom providers
to try to find a prompt and workable
solution to the issue of cellphone
coverage in rural areas.
A survey of rural mail holders was
carried out earlier in the year to
identify areas with poor coverage but
results have not been released.
Quakes more stressful than financial for farmers
A FIRST time study on the impact of
the 2010-2011 earthquakes on
Canterbury's rural community has
found stress to be the main
University of Canterbury PhD
researcher Zach Whitman, who hails
from a dairying area in upstate New
York, said the research team did not
go looking for stress but wanted to
simply gauge the effects of the
quakes on the rural community.
Researchers surveyed 54 farming
organisations all over Canterbury
and asked them how their business
had been disrupted, what resources
were helpful in mitigating the effects
of the impacts, who they relied on for
help, how the bottom line has been
affected and what the single greatest
challenge they faced was.
Farmers said increased workloads,
disrupted sleep, staff welfare and
exposure to aftershocks caused
From October 2010 to June 2012,
the reports from farmers citing
stress as the greatest challenge
doubled. We believe the increase in
stress is likely a product of exposure
to on-going aftershocks and the
challenges of recovering from the
disaster,'' Mr Whitman said.
In most cases, the farm's main
income-generating assets, such as
pasture and animals, were not
disrupted. Production and income
remained relatively unaffected. As a
result, there was not much financial
legacy of the earthquake-related
impacts by 2012.
In mitigating and recovering from
the effects of the earthquakes, we
found that farming organisations
often utilised their informal
networks for both organisational and
psychosocial support. The use of
community members, neighbours,
friends and family has helped the
farms and their rural communities
Mr Whitman said his impression
was that activities such as getting
together for a drink, forming a
weekly social event and attending
information meetings followed by a
barbecue, were very useful.
While much had been done on the
impact of natural disasters on urban
areas, no-one had looked at the
impact on rural areas before, he said.
We know much more about how
cities are affected and some of the
lessons learned from Christchurch
seem to hold true in the rural areas.
But a lot of the challenges are
unique to the rural areas.''
Monitoring impacts of natural
disasters on rural communities could
help in developing resilience for
Overall, our results suggest that
psychosocial impacts in rural
communities are important to
monitor -- and undertake research on
-- after disasters.''
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