Taking health to the heartland.

Because he works with the medical profession, mobile surgical unit (AKA the 'Bus') driver, Gavin Hurring, has been given a fitting title: he's a steerologist.

He's one of two specialist drivers (Jim Wilson is the other) at the helm of the 20-metre-long, custom-built Freightliner, nicknamed Edith Cavell, making sure she gets from A to B safely and on time, plus much more in between.

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I caught up with Hurring in Central Hawke's Bay. Outside Edith an electric frying pan of sausages was merrily sizzling away. Hurring was prepping up for lunch and as we chatted, a flow of staff kept popping in to ask if the sausages were ready. "That's me," he says. "I am a truck driver at night and during the day I become a hydraulic specialist, plumber and chef!"

They travel on a five-week loop of the country, stopping off for the day at 23 regular sites.

The unit contains a fully equipped operating theatre to provide surgery at locations lacking permanent surgical facilities. It's the only one in New Zealand.

On this round, Hurring has driven from Rotorua via the East Coast. From here he'll drive to Dannevirke and Featherston before heading to the South Island.

Hurring is a skilled multi tasker, which is just as well because the job requires him to make sure that the unit is perfectly set up at all times and runs without interruption. If something does break down then he's the go-to guy, the MacGyver who can fix something with just a box cutter, gaffer tape and smile while doing it!
Here's a typical run down of what needs to be done to set up. Click here for the full story