Town keeps ambulance, gains two paid crew

Murchison is celebrating a great result as St John announces it will be keeping its ambulance after all, with two additional crew.
St John announced on Wednesday that, rather than reducing services to the area to a First Response Unit (FRU) crewed by volunteers, it would instead retain a full ambulance service 12 hours a day, with FRU services overnight.

Murchison district community leader Simon Blakemore said it was a win not just for Murchison, but for all of New Zealand.

Its not just a local service, we don't just deal with locals, its really good news for anyone who drives through Murchison and unfortunately has an accident, he said.


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Twenty four per cent of our work is road accidents, they're people passing through.

Blakemore said the meeting where the announcement was made had been subdued at first.

Andy Jackson/Stuff
It was proposed earlier in the year that Murchison's crewed ambulance service be changed to a volunteer-only First Response Unit. (File photo)

People were braced for an argument, and then the rug was pulled from under us because we actually got good news.

He said the only tricky bit was the additional crew meant existing crew would get a drop in earnings, but on the whole it's a very good result.

We were told at the beginning of February that the decision was final.


St John had announced in February that the change from ambulance to FRU would still give Murchison the same coverage in a slightly different vehicle, but said following feedback from St John staff, the Murchison community and stakeholders, the plan had changed.

St John will provide an emergency ambulance in Murchison ... from 8am to 8pm each day. Overnight, the ambulance will be crewed by volunteers who will first respond to incidents supported by PRIME (Primary Response in Medical Emergencies) practitioners when available.

The announcement comes after a review of ambulance service delivery in the township which identified risks associated with the current model and is part of St Johns double crewing project.


The additional ambulance officers join two existing ambulance staff and nine volunteers. There will also bea dedicated rural support officer to help build confidence and provide additional resilience.

St John Tasman district operations manager James McMeekin said it had been a genuine consultative process.

We have engaged and listened to the feedback from our people, health and emergency stakeholders and the community, and we believe this outcome will provide a safe and effective ambulance service in Murchison and the surrounding area.

Braden Fastier/Stuff
St John Ambulance Tasman district operations manager James McMeekin said the decision to provide a double-crewed ambulance 12-hours a day would provide a safe and effective ambulance service to the area.

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