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‘Lollipop man’ keeping Hagley Park helicopter traffic safe

‘Lollipop man’ keeping Hagley Park helicopter traffic safe.

Handing out lollipops is not what you’d usually think of as “priority emergency response”, but for the Department of Conservation’s Shane Cross, it’s all part of making helicopter movements safe and efficient in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.

Normally dealing with animal pests in his home area of Hokitika, Shane has been tasked with the busy job of co-ordinating military and civilian flights in and out of Hagley Park.

With up to 12 aircraft movements in a day, there’s been plenty to focus on - not the least being managing the public watching the Air Force birds come and go with their cargoes of politicians, media and emergency response crews.

And that’s where the lollipops come in.
Taming the curious hordes is all part of managing the situation, and Shane has been quick to realise a lollipop bridges the gap between officialdom and curious kids.

“It builds goodwill between us and the public and gives us a chance to talk to them about what’s going and the work that the Department of Conservation is doing here and elsewhere,” Shane said.

Air Force staff on-site have adopted a similar strategy handing out stickers.
The two agencies are happily working alongside each other with DOC staff being well-equipped and trained to slot into roles supporting other agencies in just this sort of crisis.

At the Hagley Park helibase, Shane is being ably supported by fellow DOC staff Kevin Donohue and Kate Horsley who are looking after site equipment and recording helicopter movements respectively.

The three had never previously worked together, Kevin being from Twizel and Kate from Christchurch, but the crew have seamlessly formed a functioning unit that’s providing military and civilian helicopter pilots, VIPs, media and the Christchurch public with a safe central-city helicopter air base... and just a few lollipops.

ENDS

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