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Personnel boost for emergency services



3 MF-StJohnclosure1-994Residents in east Kaipara in need of St John assistance will soon receive twice the care due to a significant boost in ambulance staff receiving remuneration. 

A recent proposal from the essential services will see the number of paid officers increase from one to eight, ensuring ambulances will be ‘double-crewed’ in the Otamatea area, 24/7. 

Made possible by a government announcement in May 2017 to gradually increase funding to end single-crewing of emergency ambulances over the next four years, the change means New Zealand will no longer be the only first-world ambulance service who still have solo ambulance officers on duty. 

Acting St John Territory Manager, Blake Murray, says single-crews have been operating across the country ‘up to 100 times a day’, and in the last 12 months, local solo crewed ambulances responded to over 350 incidents throughout Otamatea. 

“Without the contribution of our dedicated volunteers, the rate of single-crewing would have been a lot higher, he says. “Adding additional staff in Otamatea will ensure patients get the best available care when they need it. It also enhances the safety and well-being of our ambulance staff.” 

Having two qualified ambulance crew members on board means patients will be able to receive clinical care while travelling to hospital, and will also reduce stress, fatigue and manual-handling injuries for officers.

St John’s proposal will also see the addition of a new First Response Unit, manned by volunteers, to manage peak times and to improve coverage in rural areas, Murray says. 

“This will also address the changing needs of volunteers, enabling them to remain in their local communities, have more flexible working hours and shorter job cycle times.” 

Under the proposal, Kaiwaka and Maungaturoto volunteer groups will merge and both vehicles would start and finish in Maungaturoto, with the combined service titled ‘Otamatea’. A decision regarding the future of the current Kaiwaka ambulance station has not yet been made, however St John will maintain a physical presence in Kaiwaka through the local St John Shop. 

“It’s important that we continue to utilise our resources efficiently and effectively,” Murray says. “We’ll be listening to feedback from our people over the next two weeks and will be discussing the proposal with our healthcare and emergency services colleagues, and other community organisations before deciding on any changes. I want to thank all of our volunteers for their commitment to date and look forward to their support to get the new First Response Unit up and running.”

 Interested in volunteering? Please visit join.stjohn.org.nz or contact Stephen Rosser on 021 355 734 or email stephen.rosser@stjohn.org.nz.

Kaiwaka and Maungaturoto volunteer groups will merge, leaving the future of the Kaiwaka ambulance station in doubt.

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