Latest news Thursday 12 March | Detective Jamie Tovi paid his dues as a police officer on the beat in Mangere but says his training really began as an orderly at Middlemore Hospital.
Working with colleagues of varying ages and serving a vulnerable community through life changing moments prepared him for a career in policing, Jamie says.
The Mangere resident remembers the intensity of attending his first death as a 19-year-old, not long out of high school.
“A woman had had a heart attack at the short stay ward and an orderly was needed either to run specimens to the lab or help out with the defibrillator. But when I got there she had collapsed in the bathroom. Everyone was very professional but I remember the lady passing away. Meanwhile, her daughter was on the phone asking ‘what happened to my Mum.’” Jamie says.
“The nurse was saying ‘what do I say?’ and the doctor was brand new. I remember the privilege being in that moment. It was life and death and it was intimate.”
Eventually he was asked to lift the woman.
“I thought ‘Oh my gosh I’ve never been near a dead person’. After getting through that I think everything else is fine,” he says.
Jamie say the experience has never left him, and these days a lot of his work involves being with people in these intense times that not many other professions get to experience.
Middlemore (which remains a workplace for many of his whaanau including his mother, a nurse, his brother a radiographer, and his sister a transcriptionist) also taught him about problem solving, punctuality, a strong work ethic and being part of a whole.
“You’re one of the cogs in the engine. Orderlies help out everywhere – pushing beds, fixing the gas, running stuff for security. Everyone knows their role but everyone treats each other fairly.”
He also learned a lot from the positive attitudes of the patients he attended to - such as those in the Renal Ward.
“They would ask me about my weekend – they were so friendly. It took me a while to realise they’d been here all week - they hadn’t been home but they were always so positive. I never realised they don’t leave the hospital. Some of them passed away – one day I would come in and they were not there. It was sad.”
While he was always community minded, these experiences strengthened his desire to give back, and the police became a natural progression. His enthusiastic orderly colleagues were supportive of his career plans, and organised lunchtime runs around the hospital campus to ensure he would meet the strict police fitness criteria.
He’s now been with the police for 14 years and a detective for over three years.
More than anything he says his six years at Middlemore gave him an extraordinary amount of resilience.
“That is where I think the beauty lies for all Counties Manukau staff – no matter how hard the task, we just work through.”