Eastern Courier : November 5th 2010
www.easterncourier.co.nz Friday, November 5, 2010 Text alert: Judith Serfontein is pleased she and others in the deaf community can now send a text message to access the 111 service. Photo: FIONA GOODALL Text lifeline for deaf By NICOLA WILLIAMS DEAF mother Judith Serfontein was unable to contact 111 when her toddler nearly drowned in 2001. It would be a different story today thanks to a new text messaging ser- vice that puts deaf people straight through to the emergency communi- cations centre. Mrs Serfontein rushed her two- year-old son to hospital in a car because she couldn't call 111. Another person at the scene called an ambulance but Ms Serfon- tein didn't know that because of communication difficulties. She says she would now be empowered with the ability to call 111 if a similar situation arose again. For me it's amazing and it's a really big thank you to Deaf Aotea- roa for working with the emergency services to set it up.'' The Half Moon Bay resident taught her children to call 111 in a crisis but felt they were too young for the responsibility. I feel independent, I don't have to find a hearing person to help me and then have the possibility of a communication breakdown.'' She says the deaf community is gobsmacked and really excited'' about the service. It's another tool to help deaf people become more independent, she says. The information they need to get across is really simple because their address is logged under their num- ber.'' Mrs Serfontein says text messaging is the main form of com- munication for many deaf people. She is proud New Zealand is the first in the world to offer the service. And deaf people will be able to help others if they witness an accident. The service will be extended to texting Civil Defence information in a natural disaster when most people would rely on a radio to receive information. Deaf people miss out on that information too.'' Go to www.deaf.org.nz for information on registering for the service. Top cop assesses extra staff By NICOLA WILLIAMS New inspector: Jacqui Whittaker has taken on the job of tactical response manager at Howick police station. Photo: NICOLA WILLIAMS A top cop is helping to ensure extra officers are put to the best use. Inspector Jacqui Whittaker's appointment to Howick comes at a time when 300 extra staff have been assigned to Counties Manukau and policing within the district has been restruc- tured. It's a good opportunity to look at the way things are done andseeifwecandoit differently.'' Mrs Whittaker's tactical response manager role will provide extra assistance to the area commander for Counties Manukau East. This job is one I've always wanted to do, it's about looking at the way we deploy, provide community reassurance and reduce crime.'' Mrs Whittaker was a shift inspector in Auckland city before making the move. It's an exciting time to come to Counties because there are so many changes going on. There is some really good work going here already and I want to make sure that con- tinually improves.'' She says the extra officers assigned to Counties Manukau have the potential to make a big impact on community safety.
November 10th 2010