1492422833567 - Kaikoura doctors awarded for their contribution after last year’s earthquake.

Kaikoura doctors awarded for their contribution after last year’s earthquake.

Two of Kaikoura’s long-serving doctors have been recognised for their contribution to health and the community after last year’s earthquakes.

GP’s Chris Henry and Andrea Judd received the Peter Snow Memorial Award at a ceremony in Wellington in recognition of their contribution to rural health in NZ and innovations to patient management under difficult circumstances,

The two doctors are adamant it’s the efforts of their wider team, as well as the various other groups involved in the quake aftermath who should be paid tribute to.

Andrea Judd, a local doctor for 24 years said the “significant award” came as a complete surprise.

“We do feel it [the award] did reflect what was happening in the community.”

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Her colleague Chris Henry was on call the night the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the region and knew he had to get to the hospital. 

Judd was in Christchurch when news of the earthquake came through after midnight. “There was no communication so I had no idea what I was coming to,” she said.

“The hospital, and the park in front were jam-packed with people, cars and campervans. 

“It was surreal feeling – there was constant motion, with people coming and going … and the earth was still moving.

“Then the noise started as the helicopters arrived, ” said Judd.

With the only wi-fi connection and power in town, the 14-month old Kaikoura medical facility soon became a base for emergency services.

“Very early on there was a sense of relief we were in this building – it just weathered it very well – everyone who worked here felt very safe. For a lot of the community it was an absolute beacon and it gave people a sense of security to look up here and see the lights,” said Judd.

Despite the fact some of their homes were in complete disarray, medical-centre staff arrived straight away.

With surprisingly few injuries for the size of the earthquake the job was really about health response, co-ordinating teams of people and bringing all the teams together, said Judd.

“We were both really proud of how the community responded to it and how the different services kicked in and how people stepped up.

“The earthquake brought us close – it brought out a lot of different aspects of the community that we hadn’t seen for awhile.”

Henry agrees the award was more about acknowledging how the whole team responded to a difficult situation.

“The whole rural health team stepped up, and all the hospital staff came in to help,” he said.

The GP, who has served Kaikoura for 12 years was the recipient of the New Zealand Bravery Medal after he helped rescue trapped survivors and remove the dead from the collapsed and burning CTV building after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch on February 22, 2011.

“It was quite odd to be caught up in two earthquakes,” said Henry. “They were different in the sense that initially the Christchurch one was more trauma-orientated, whereas the Kaikoura earthquake was community focused.”