James McMeekin, Anne-Maree Harris and Murray Neal of St John’s with the region’s three new ambulances. Photo: Jonty Dine.

New ambulances for region


A trio of new ambulances is set to start saving lives across the region.

The three vehicles were gifted to St John last week with one to be based at Richmond and one to each Motueka and Blenheim.

Territory manager Robbie Blankstein says ambulances no longer simply act as transport to the hospital.

“These are our offices – the days of working in a converted campervan are over.”

The highly-equipped, lifesaving vehicles do not come cheap, however, with each ambulance costing $220,000. But the new additions were made possible thanks to donations from Pub Charity Limited in partnership with Northend Hotels.

Among the revolutionary features is an automated Powerload Stryker Stretcher, which will reduce staff injuries and fatigue.

“Our job is unplanned; we pick up multiple patients often multiple times per day,” Robbie says.

He says the new stretcher will mean 70 fewer lifts per day for ambulance officers.

“It is one of the many design benefits.”

The three emergency vehicles were blessed and dedicated at a ceremony in Nelson last Friday morning.

St John District operations manager for Tasman, James McMeekin, says the generous donations helps ensure local ambulance crews have the most up-to-date vehicles and lifesaving equipment to treat patients.

“No one knows when they will need an ambulance, but if and when the time comes, you need to know you’ll get the right care at the right time.”

Pub Charity Limited chief executive Martin Cheer says, for someone in distress, there can be no more comforting sound than a siren off in the distance, indicating help is at hand.

“Then come the men and women of St John – cool and calm under pressure, responding with a confidence that allows a patient to focus on their own well-being.”

In the calendar year 2018, St John responded to 12,828 incidents in the Nelson Bays and Marlborough area, 33.3 percent of these were life threatening or time critical.