She’s been a lifeguard, a gym instructor and a paramedic, but these days she’s enjoying being in the air.
“I’ve always been active and outdoorsy and am absolutely loving the aviation aspect to this work,” says Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter service’s newest crewman.
“It feels like I have the best job in the world.”
Originally from the surfing county of Cornwall, England, Caroline “Caz” Cundall-Curry joined the team in June and underwent four months’ training both from Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust’s (EHRT) Gisborne hangar, and at affiliated bases in Taupo and Palmerston North.
“Since starting I’ve been able to develop skills including winching and the use of Night Vision Goggles and that will be ongoing,” she says.
“It’s been a challenge but the pilots – and the rest of the team – have been absolutely incredible in having my back all the way.”
Caz’s career to date has seen her do jobs from being a gym instructor and a lifeguard, to teaching outdoor skills like rock-climbing, sailing and kayaking.
She was keen on joining the fire brigade but with funding cuts in the offing, instead trained in paramedicine, working for the East England Ambulance Service Trust.
“I’d always been active, and enjoyed learning about people and helping them, so it seemed like a natural progression,” she says.
“The best thing about working in helicopter rescue is that it combines all those things I really love.”
She joined the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team after spending six years in New Zealand, the last five on the East Coast.
With the recent relocation of crewman and former base manager Kelley Waite, Caz’s arrival brings the number of Eastland Rescue Helicopter crewmen back up to three, with a fourth due to start at the end of the year.
That will create a match for the four-strong team of critical care flight paramedics, while recruitment for a fourth pilot is underway.
“Having a full crew is important as it means they can fly their life-saving missions while still having a decent work-life balance,” says EHRT chair Patrick Willock.
“With Gisborne being a bit off the beaten track it is critical to have a good, strong team and to look after them well, and this is a fantastic step towards that aim.”
Until that fourth crewman arrives, however, Caz has a few more tough chats to have with her eight- and 10-year-old daughters as to why 24-hour rosters are keeping her away from home.
“They’ve actually been amazing, and I think it’s important they see mum doing something she’s passionate about so they can take that into their own adult lives,” she says.
“This really is my dream job, and shows my girls they can do anything they want.”
Caption: Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter service’s newest crewman, Caz Cundall-Curry, says she feels lucky to retrain in a new career she feels passionate about.