If there’s ever an emergency situation at Gisborne’s Cedenco Foods, factory worker Kody Te Hau is one of an elite team of staff trained in emergency response and containment. Wearing a protective suit and breathing apparatus Kody and Rescue Squad colleagues will locate and isolate the source of the leak.
Rescue Squad staff do physical training every two weeks - running, climbing and practicing emergency response drills in their cumbersome hazmat suits. It’s hard work, and Kody has an extra disadvantage... he’s a smoker.
“We do lots of heavy lifting, and carrying people, and I’d be sucking up oxygen, lots of oxygen, and breathing heavily,” says Kody of the training.
So when Cedenco offered an on-site quit smoking programme run by Turanga Health Kody, 29, jumped at the chance to quit his disabling 15-year habit. His work mates needed to be able to count on him.
“I’ve a got a six-month old and a six-year-old. That’s my motivation. But it was the responsibility of being in the Rescue Squad too. I need to be in better shape if I’m in that role.”
Kody and colleagues Bobby-Joe Brown-Kaiwai and Tukaki Wanoa have just taken part in the largest quit smoking programme ever run at a Gisborne workplace. Fifty Cedenco Foods staff signed up to the 12-week challenge and just about everyone cut down their smoking. Seven quit for good.
“That’s the largest group we have ever worked with in one place,” says long time smoking cessation kaiāwhina Christine Nepia, who along with colleague Mere Waihi went to huge lengths to help the Cedenco staff.
“To make sure we saw as many staff as possible we were there at 5am and some days we were there again in the afternoon for the shift change,” says Mere.
Cedenco Foods, which produces natural fruit and vegetable ingredients for world export, operates a three-shift cycle at its 24-hour plant. General Manager Darryl Hudson says onsite visits from Turanga Health nurses and kaiawhina are helping keep staff fit and well. He knew the smokefree programme would be a “good fit” with the mainly Maori and Pacifica staff. He also knew there would be more chance of success if the Turanga Health staff were regularly there – so he gave Christine and Mere unfettered access!
“Christine and Mere ran things themselves and that was great for us. When the crew came into the café for a break they could see the smokefree ladies, blow into the machine, and talk about how to beat the addiction.” He says the company is looking at running the programme again next year.
During the 12-week programme Cedenco staff did a weekly smokerlyzer test. Staff blew into a smokerlyzer machine and it revealed if they had any carbon monoxide on their breath. Carbon monoxide is the poison inhaled when people smoke. A reading under-5 means the person has not smoked that day. A low reading usually leads to an almighty cheer.
The staff were awesomely supportive of each other, says Christine. “There was a real team vibe, people would awhi friends and family, and even staff not on the programme would offer congratulations when a smoker blew a low score”.
The 50 Cedenco Foods staff were broken into teams of 10 people. There was a $1000 prize for the team that blew the lowest amount over 12 weeks. One whānau group saw uncles helping nephews and vice versa. For the record the ladies team called Six-to-Two-Shift won! Spot prizes of gym and pool passes, and meat, as well as prizes for effort, were announced each week and helped motivate staff.
Factory worker Bobby-Joe Brown-Kaiwai says she joined the programme because she was wasting $100 a week on cigarettes that she could otherwise spend on essentials and treats. She has rheumatic heart disease and faces surgery in the future - so has more than most to gain from quitting smoking. “I got a long way to stopping smoking before, so when a programme came to work I thought I would try again.” Bobby-Joe dropped from about 20 cigarettes a day to three, and is determined to keep it at that number or less.
A few weeks on from the programme Kody Te Hau enjoys better breathing in normal life and while in the Rescue Squad hazmat suit. “The suits are for protection, not comfort but it’s getting easier all the time”.
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