Messages of goodwill, support and pizza deliveries have come from around the country and world for Canterbury health workers tending the victims of Friday’s mosque shootings.

A Canterbury DHB spokesperson said they had received many, many messages of goodwill, offers of support and gifts from home-baked good from the public to pizza deliveries sent by DHBs around the country.  A GP leader, College of GPs president Sam Murton, said she had received multiple calls over the weekend from GPs offering help and support including the possibility of making holiday homes available to support people caught up in the tragedy. St John Ambulance have also received numerous messages of support from fellow paramedics and St John units around the world.

Tributes have also been paid to mosque victim Dr Amjad Hamid, who lived in Christchurch with his family but travelled to Hawera Hospital to work as a rural hospital consultant. The well-liked doctor had practised in New Zealand for more than 20 years, many of those in Christchurch, and was known for his compassion and sense of humour.

In the wake of Friday’s terror attack on the two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people the Christchurch Hospital ED department cared for 48 victims on Friday.  It had 12 operating theatres working through the night and seven theatres were in action on Sunday, rather than the usual three, as they cared for the victims of the horrific shootings. Other victims turned up to Christchurch ED and after-hours health centres over the weekend with injuries such as embedded glass framents, lacerations, and back, knee and foot injuries.

St John Ambulance paramedics attending the victims at Al Noor mosque in Deans Avenue yesterday talked of arriving to find a “river of blood coming out of the mosque”– a scene they would never forget.

At the second shooting at the Linwood mosque, where seven people died, it was a group of five doctors and nurses from the neighbouring Piki Te Ora medical centre who were the first responders until ambulances could reach the scene.

A spokesperson for the union and community health service, Dr Simon Wynn Thomas said the team stressed they had believed they had done nothing beyond what any other clinician would have done but it was his view that they had acted extremely professionally, selflessly and compassionately.

As of this morning there were still 30 victims from the shootings in hospital – nine of those were in a critical condition including a four-year-old girl in Starship Hospital whose injured father had been transferred to Auckland to be closer to her and supporting family.  The DHB and general practices are also responding to a measles outbreak with yesterday the number of confirmed cases in Canterbury now standing at 30 and a further case under investigation.

David Meates, chief executive of Canterbury DHB, said in an update to staff yesterday that he realised many staff had “their heads down right now and just doing their best to get through the days and nights”.  But he said when they get a chance they should check out some of the messages being shared via social media to the Canterbury DHB team.  “I am incredibly proud of what’s happening in our health system and clearly I am not alone.”

Messages have come in from hospitals and emergency services from Northland to Manchester and Hobart to Dunedin.  Along with home-baking from people in Christchurch there have also been gifts sent from colleagues in hospitals around the country.  In a Facebook post on the New Zealand, Please hear our voice page a Christchurch nurse thanked Rotorua Hospital for a delivery of pizzas to the operating theatres over the weekend and an ICU nurse thanked Auckland City ICU for a delivery of pizza to the Christchurch ICU team.

Meates said in a earlier update to staff that “unlike the 50 innocent victims of this shocking attack, the people who made it to Christchurch Hospital had a chance, and I’m so proud of the work of our teams.

St John territory Manager Craig Downing in a media conference yesterday acknowledged all those who lost loved ones, and spoke of his pride for the work of the ambulance staff.

“We call it a family because we are a family.”

St John Canterbury District operations manager Wally Mitchell, who was only three weeks into the job, praised the staff and said the ambulance processes came together in a seamless way.

“It was a response I feel very privileged to be a part of … It was an amazing team.They saved lives on the day.”

Meates said his ongoing concern was for the wellbeing of his staff.

We know from our experiences with the earthquakes that as we move from the response phase to the recovery phase, the impact of traumatic events become more apparent once the adrenaline wears off, patients are back to their families, the media leaves town and people try to return to their normal lives. T

“The long-term consequences of traumatic events pose a new risk to our staff and the people working in our health system, those in our care and the wider community.

“We expect to see an increasing demand for wellbeing support over the coming days and weeks as the reality of what has happened in our city sinks in.”

He said he knew Canterbury health workers were resilient “but we are already seeing the impact of the last few days, with some staff experiencing shock and exhaustion and who are in need of support and time off to recharge.

The Hospital had postpone some elective surgery and was focusing on planning to manage patient flows and on offering additional support services for staff who are also being encouraged to keep supporting and looking out for each other.

“An individual has tried to drive our community apart but as Cantabrians keep repeating to each other and to our Muslim friends, ultimately the plan failed because they are us and we are them,” said Meates in closing his message in a special update to staff and the Canterbury Health System.

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