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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

20 July 2020

When the call came in from Northland District Health Board for help in picking up renal patients stranded by Northland floods, Staff Sergeant Ben Penney was ready to go.

“Flood or not, I knew that these patients need their medical care and if they could not make it to a hospital or get their medication it becomes a life and death situation,” Staff Sergeant Penney from the 3rd/6th Reserve Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, said of Saturday’s call.

“I mustered our Reserves and together we prepared our Unimog truck. We got supplies to keep the patients comfortable on the trip such as thermal mats, smock liners and water. We then made our way to a patient in need in Ōakura. The roads were pretty dicey due to extreme flooding, however the Unimog is exceptional in such conditions,” he said.

“We picked up the patient and delivered him safely to hospital. It felt great to be able to use our training and equipment to directly help Kiwis in need. The patient was extremely thankful, we all went home feeling like we did what we were trained to do.”

The NZ Army Reserve is the part-time component of the NZ Army. Training and deploying alongside their Regular Force counterparts, the NZ Army Reserve is made up of close to 1900 kiwis ready to lend their expertise to the New Zealand communities they come from, and around the world when they are most needed.

Sarah Hoyle, Emergency Manager for Northland District Health Board, says it is absolutely critical that flood isolated patients get treatment.

“The New Zealand Defence Force was happy to help. Seeing an Army truck in front of the hospital was a really welcome sight for our staff and patients”.

The Battalion will be providing two Unimogs, staffed by NZ Army Reservists, to assist with moving patients isolated by flood conditions this week.