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St John Wishes Kiwis A Safe And Enjoyable Holiday Season

As another year comes to an end and New Zealanders make the most of the summer break, St John is reminding everyone to stay safe and look out for their whānau, friends and neighbours.

While it’s a relief to be able to travel freely, albeit with restrictions, across Aotearoa this season, it’s the busiest time of the year for St John ambulance teams, who respond to many car crashes and water incidents which could have been avoided by taking care on the road and in the water.

Last year, St John responded to over 1,000 emergency incidents on Christmas Day across the country, with the most common being falls or back injuries, unconscious people and breathing problems.

Dan Ohs, St John Deputy Chief Executive – Ambulance Operations says that while it’s understandable many people will be heading away or outdoors, it’s important to take care and be mindful of whānau, friends, and people in our communities.

“The festive season can be a difficult time for people with financial problems or those who live alone. We’ve noticed an increase in patients presenting with mental health problems around this time, so please check on those who are vulnerable.”

“Our ambulance staff also face an increase in workload this time of year, and while we are prepared for summer – there is some uncertainty as to what impact COVID-19 will have, as people reconnect and travel – and what impact that will have on emergency incident volumes,” says Mr Ohs.

“Please remember our paramedics will respond as soon as possible to life-threatening and time critical emergencies, but if your condition is not urgent there may be a delay in getting an ambulance to you and we ask for your patience.”

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“In addition, if you interact with our frontline call handlers or ambulance staff – be kind. Our people are here to help you and we have a zero tolerance for verbal or physical violence towards our people.”

As COVID-19 remains in the community, St John urges New Zealanders to continue to observe the Ministry of Health guidelines on keeping safe. Make sure you scan the NZ Covid Tracer app wherever you go, have your vaccine pass ready, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, wear a face mask, and stay home if you are sick.

St John wants everyone to have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and offers some useful tips:

  • Drive to the conditions, be patient, eliminate distractions and ensure everyone wears a safety belt in the car.
  • If you venture to another part of the country, familiarise yourself with your location before you set off. Know your exact address in case you need to call for help.
  • Find out where the closest hospital or medical centre is and be aware that you may have to travel a long way to access medical help in rural or remote areas.
  • Take care around water, please wear life jackets when boating and supervise children at the beach or swimming pool.
  • Be sun smart! Slip, slop, slap, and wrap!
  • A pre-existing medical condition can quickly become an emergency if regular medicine isn’t available. Remember to stock up on your prescriptions before going on holiday.
  • St John frontline ambulance teams all too often attend incidents caused by too much alcohol. Drink responsibly this summer.
  • Make sure little ones are not playing near the barbeque and that older children are playing safely. Find our top tips for treating burns here.
  • Remember to keep batteries from Christmas gifts away from children to avoid swallowing. The battery can become lodged in the oesophagus with dangerous results. See our choking first aid advice here.
  • Be prepared by travelling with a St John first aid kit and download the free St John CPR app here.

St John wishes everyone a relaxing and safe summer.

Free health advice is available from registered nurses, 24/7 through the Healthline number, 0800 611 116. Always call 111 in an emergency.

About St John

As the emergency services arm of the health sector, St John ambulances serve 90% of New Zealanders across 97% of the country.

Over the last year, St John answered more than 580,000 emergency calls. St John ambulances travelled over 18 million kilometres and ambulance officers treated and/or transported more than 488,000 patients.

St John has more than 4,000 paid and volunteer ambulance officers and more than 1,100 ambulances and operational vehicles throughout the country, responding to emergencies 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Emergency ambulance services provided by St John are funded approximately 80 percent through contracts with the Ministry of Health and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), with the balance made up from ambulance part-charges, third-party contracts, and fundraising. Ambulance part-charges and fundraising contribute towards purchasing and equipping ambulances, clinical equipment and building and maintaining ambulance stations.

To meet the broader health needs of New Zealanders, St John also works to tackle underlying issues affecting wellbeing, build resilience, and create connections for stronger communities through its range of free community health programmes and innovative, products and services, which help people live independent lives and feel safer at home or work.

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