Paramedic gets top honour for Māori practise education

  • 16/07/2016
Paramedic gets top honour for Māori practise education

Carlton Irving is there during a medical emergency, when someone's life hangs in the balance.

"Our job is to do what we can do right now that might save someone’s life," Mr Carlton Irving told The Hui.

Mr Carlton is an intensive care paramedic with St John Ambulance, working on the rescue helicopter in the Nelson Bays region.  It's a role the former musician was destined for from a young age.

"When I was around seven or eight my favourite Aunt Ann went tramping on the Heaphy Track and went missing.  I had this funny feeling that maybe if it had been me that had been looking, maybe I would have found her.  That’s something I still carry today - we don’t give up easy when we go looking for people," he says.

Mr Carlton's just as passionate about improving health outcomes for Māori.

He says when he first became an ambulance officer 14 years ago he encountered racism. It’s what has driven him to educate St John staff to be more culturally aware.

"We delivered out to our frontline staff so they had an understanding about Te Ao Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi. And what to do particularly with deceased patients so understanding tangihanga and all that stuff," Carlton says.

In recognition of his services, Mr Carlton was recently invested as a Member of the Order of St John – an honour only a few staff can claim.

"It's one of the first times in the organisation of St John that you feel like the work we've been doing trying to develop Te Ao Māori has been recognised," he says.

For the full story watch The Hui Sunday July 17 at 9.30am.