Christina Broughton says her own experience with emergency services is something she wants others to avoid.
Christina Broughton knows only too well the difficulty people who are deaf can have communicating with emergency services, which is why she’s helping frontline staff learn sign language.
In 2005, Broughton, who is deaf, was in her cold, two-storey home when she went downstairs and turned the stove on for warmth – later forgetting what she had done.
She couldn’t hear the fire alarms going off and was only alerted to the blaze in her home when she saw the flashing lights of a fire truck outside her house while sitting upstairs.
Broughton, who is now a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) tutor, shared her story this week as she took part in an initiative teaching emergency service personnel sign language so they can communicate with those who are deaf.
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The initiative, a partnership between Deaf Aotearoa, National Emergency Management Agency and Auckland Emergency Management, has seen workers across the country learning the language as part of New Zealand Sign Language week, which runs May 9 to May 15.
It has also seen staff provided booklets and posters detailing emergency-related sign language in English and Te Reo.
The booklets, which are agency specific, are kept in emergency service vehicles, while the posters have been put up in offices across the country.
There are also taster sessions, which Broughton is involved with.
Frontline staff are doing their part by learning basic sign to enhance communication in emergencies.
Taranaki Emergency Management community resilience lead Kaz Lawson has been driving the initiative in the region and said it’s important to highlight inclusion in every aspect of life, whether it’s an emergency or not.
“A whole community should have access to information in an emergency and that’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities as well as everybody else.
“We decided to push …….