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Private petition highlights support for paid ambulance crew


9 MF-Stjohnpetition1-507A recent petition created with the intention to get dedicated St John emergency responders honoured with a salary, has just signed off after gathering over 2000 signatures. 

Circulating among local shops and advertised on social media, the privately arranged petition was co-ordinated by four locals who were concerned about the availability of ambulance crews in Mangawhai.

One of the organisers, Marion Pilmer, expressed her sincere thanks on social media 'to all those special Mangawhai people who signed'. 

"We congratulate you all for contributing... to getting permanent paramedics for Mangawhai for the safety of our residence'. 

St John Mangawhai’s station manager Andrew Mumford says he was aware of the petition as the organisers had previously expressed their concerns to him. 

“The petition follows a small number of incidents where patients were responded to by an ambulance from outside Mangawhai, with organisers believing that the local ambulance was unavailable due to a lack of crew,” he says. “However St John has an ambulance available in Mangawhai most of the time but when it is not available, it’s usually because we’re helping others.”

St John already provides funded staff over summer when the population swells but having regularly paid staff would not change the current arrangements of the emergency service, Mumford says.

“However in saying that, we believe the petition has already done a great deal of good by engaging people in conversations about healthcare and resilience in our community.” 

Building community resilience is a key goal of St John with initiatives like Automated External Defibrillators (AED) placed in many locations around Mangawhai, and free CPR and AED awareness sessions held on weekends. 

“We are also looking at First Aid Training among other things. Building community resilience is something we’ve been putting a lot of effort into locally. The petition also highlights that there is always a need for more volunteers who are keen to step forward to help provide this service.” 

Currently Mangawhai has 18 operational volunteers active with a further six joining the team in coming months. Mumford says collectively the volunteers contribute over 250 hours a week to ensure the ambulance is available when needed.

“Since the start of the year, the Mangawhai based ambulance has been rostered on duty over 75 percent of the time. When not on duty, volunteers carry pagers and are available to respond from home to urgent calls.”

Demand for emergency ambulance services in Mangawhai has increased over the last few years, not only over summer but throughout the year. From April 2018 to March 2019, 602 incidents were recorded in the Mangawhai response area, up from 531 in the previous 12 months. Mumford says this is due to the increase in population as well as the changing healthcare needs of residents. 

“With an increased workload comes the higher chance that there is more than one person needing help at the same time,” he says. “All ambulances in the area work together to meet the overall demand for services.”

Mangawhai’s ambulance responds to over half of local incidents, and crews from Maungaturoto, Bream Bay and Wellsford support as required. In turn, almost half of the responses undertaken by the Mangawhai ambulance are for calls outside the local response area, Mumford says.

“In all cases, St John will respond with the closest appropriate ambulance to the patients in greatest need... we want the community to be assured that someone will indeed come."

If interested in joining the St John team, please contact Andrew Mumford, andrew.mumford@stjohn.org.nz.

St John station manager Andrew Mumford with veteran emergency responder of 16 years Lorna Wakefield.

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