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St John committed to fully crewed ambulances

7 September 2005

St John Media Release

St John committed to fully crewed ambulances

The issue of ambulance crewing levels and the risks around single crewed ambulance responses is already on the agenda that sits between St John, the country's largest ambulance service provider, and the two funders, the Ministry of Health and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

St John Chief Executive Jaimes Wood said the St John position is clear and that all emergency ambulance calls should be responded to by a vehicle with two ambulance officers.

"Fully crewed ambulances are required to benefit patients and maintain the safety of our people. The Ministry of Health understands this is our position and they have heard from us on this for some years now," Mr Wood says.

"Most times that we single crew we have only one ambulance officer available and this is not a matter of choice. There are many variables that need to be factored in and money alone will not make the issue disappear. The numbers of volunteers available to crew ambulances, particularly in rural areas, is another big factor."

St John currently provides single crewed responses to between 12 and 15% of all its emergency ambulance responses across the country.

Mr Wood said that some comments recently published on ambulance crewing were off the mark.

"To suggest that you can selectively single or fully crew dependant on the severity of the incident is not operationally practical. You don't always need two ambulance officers but we never know what sort of situation we will encounter when we get to a location."

Commenting on Green MP Sue Kedgley's suggestion of a Private Member's Bill to make full crewing compulsory, Mr Wood said "Ms Kedgley's intentions are great but the practicalities of funding fully crewed responses across the country are perhaps not fully appreciated."

"We need a mix of paid and volunteer ambulance officers nationally and this should be no surprise in a country of this size with this population.

"We do need significantly more funding and we need more volunteers. Our funding has increased in recent years, as have our volunteer numbers - we need to accelerate the lift in both," Mr Wood says.

ENDS

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