WAIKATO DISTRICT HEALTH BOARD
1 JANUARY 2008
Drivers Critical After Car Accident In Waikato
The 34-year-old male driver of a car and the 30-year-old driver of a van involved in a fatal accident near Kihihiki south of Te Awamutu today are both in critical condition in Waikato Hospital.
The only passenger in the car died at the scene.
Seven other passengers from the van, all Auckland-based Chinese nationals, were admitted to Waikato Hospital - three in serious condition.
They were on a day-long family outing from Auckland to Waitomo Caves when the accident happened.
Waikato Hospital staff were put on mass casualty alert at 3.38pm. Emergency Department clinical unit director Shameem Safih said extra medical staff were called in from leave and other medical staff extended their shifts to cope.
"We had a good team in place for every patient - everything went smoothly."
When the injured first arrived, eight were assessed in critical condition - five as triage one (to be seen immediately) and three at triage two (to be seen within 10 minutes). A seven-year-old boy was in a satisfactory condition. The driver of the van and a 20-year-old passenger are newly-weds.
A Cantonese-speaking interpreter was called in to assist medical staff communicate with the patients.
Nurses paid tribute to the help given before the interpreter's arrival by the seven-year-old boy who was able to provide names, ages and details of the patients along with family contact details.
"He was a very brave boy," said one nurse.
Two Mandarin-speaking doctors were on duty and also able to assist.