Dr Tony Smith (St John)


Nominee/entrant details

Dr Tony Smith, Clinical Director


Employer details

St John

Size: 10,000+ staff

Industry: Health Care and Social Assistance


Background on entrant/nominee's employer

*** Note to judges: St John advised that they had trouble using the online form. They submitted an email entry containing several paragraphs not specifically tuned in response to the questions below. We have done our best to place responses in the relevant fields, but their original submission can be viewed on pages 2-3 of the attached support document. *** A core activity for St John is providing Ambulance Services throughout Aotearoa. In addition St John have a key role in the broader picture of health care, through our provision of first aid training, event medical services, first aid kits and supplies, medical alarms, youth groups and a wide range of community supports such as caring callers and therapy pets. A cornerstone of St John is the generosity of volunteers and supporters who make these things happen.


Executive summary

Through this genuine lived experience from not only a leader in the organisation, but also from the pinnacle clinician, whose clinical authority is delegated widely to ambulance staff this story meant that mental distress is common to us as humans and the aspect of seeking support to maintain psychological wellbeing is very important. Tony is thanked by our people for being open, honest, raw and making others feel that it is ok to not be ok but when to look at seeking support.


Authenticity and vulnerability

On 9th December 2019 just after 2pm New Zealand time the Whakaari/White Island in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty explosively erupted. At the time of the eruption 47 people were on the island, 22 people subsequently died (approximately half within the first hours) and 34 were treated for serious injuries many of these for severe burn injuries. St John New Zealand was the responding road ambulance service, and Dr Tony Smith, Clinical Director for the service helped lead the response which has proven to be one of the most challenging events in Tony's long-standing medical career. Throughout 2020 Tony shared his experience during this event, including the challenges he and his team faced. “For the first time I had to admit I was not ok” Tony shared the personal impact this event had on him, and the mental health recovery support that was available to both him and his team. Our people feedback “This is one of the most powerful videos out there for us as New Zealand First Responders in the setting of mental health. Thank you for sharing such a powerful video Tony!” This is shared at wellbeing talks across the country , it reduces stigma empowers our frontline staff and gives permission for our people to speak up and ask for support not only for this incident, but also for other critical incidents that they attend.


Courage and leadership

Dr Tony Smith was very courageous to share his story of this never seen before, highly public event with the rest of St John. From a leader in the organisation this story was a great way of leading by example. Dr Tony Smith speaks of his experience at the time, but also what help he sought and how this improved his mental health. Tony has since shared his story internationally including a learning session with the Council of Ambulance Authority, press publications and national television. Tony shared that in the weeks and months following the day, he experienced for the very for the very first time a significant impact on his mental health. His tag line “I was not immune” is shared across the sector.


Engagement and communication

In a 7 minute 16 second podcast Dr Tony Smith shared his story, which is one of the most powerful videos out there for us as New Zealand First Responders in the setting of mental health. This podcast speaks of the potential reality of every First Responder who is exposed to critical incidents. Dr Tony sends a very clear message of his own realisation / vulnerability at the time when he felt that this incident had impacted him. Through this genuine lived experience from not only a leader in the organisation, but also from the pinnacle clinician, whose clinical authority is delegated widely to ambulance staff this story meant that mental distress is common to us as humans and the aspect of seeking support to maintain psychological wellbeing is very important. Tony is thanked by our people for being open, honest, raw and making others feel that it is ok to not be ok but when to look at seeking support.


Impact

This podcast of Dr Tony Smith was shared organisation wide and has had a ripple effect to other First Responder agencies who also face the same mental health challenges. The podcast has been a big part of the awareness around PTSD and is played to all our staff on PTSD day. Tony’s ambition is to help others by sharing his story. https://vimeo.com/stjohnnz/review/434296126/2f265a07c4 https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12337848


Inclusion

*** Note to judges: We did not see a specific response on this in the entry. The raw entry, as submitted can be viewed on pages 2-3 of the attached support materials document. ***


Innovation and creativity

*** Note to judges: We did not see a specific response on this in the entry. The raw entry, as submitted can be viewed on pages 2-3 of the attached support materials document. ***


Supporting materials (optional)


Photograph of entrant/nominee (optional)


Link to video (optional)


Referee details

Adele Saunders, Psychological Health and Wellbeing Manager (St John)

0272086037 • [email protected]


Key contact

Helen Sadgrove, Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing (St John)

021 833 377 • [email protected]

0
Votes
58
Views
3 Months
Since posted
Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner Tickets

All remaining tickets for the Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner are now available for purchase, up to a maximum total ticket allocation of 10 tickets per organisation.

There are currently only 32 tickets remaining, and these can be purchased on a first-come-first-served basis. Order now.

Principal Sponsor
WorkSafe
Sponsors
AIA VitalityAll About People
ANZCO FoodsBenestar
Business Leaders' Health & Safety ForumEmployers & Manufacturers Association
Ember InnovationsMentemia
Ministry of Health
PwC New ZealandRussell McVeagh
SparkThe Warehouse Group
Whittaker'sWoo Wellbeing
Xero
Selected Category Sponsor opportunities are still available. Please visit the sponsorship page for more details or contact us to request a sponsorship prospectus.
Charity Partner
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
Event Delivery Partners
Awards Trophy & Engraving ExpertsCreative Eye
Dave Simpson PhotographyMatley Chartered Accountants
Edwards Sound, Lighting & AVOutspoken
Sorrento in the Park
Awards night is now Tues, 16 November. Learn more about how we're dealing with COVID-19:
This is default text for notification bar