Andrea Gardiner and Lisa Sturgess have started their new paid roles with St John. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

St John staffing boost reduces risk

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A government-funded initiative to end single-crewed ambulance callouts has finally rolled out to the Nelson region with 14 new recruits hitting the ground running last week.

St John Nelson Bays territory manager Anne-Maree Harris says the end of single-crewed callouts in the region will change clinical outcomes, cardiac arrest outcomes and staff wellbeing.

“It’s absolutely now guaranteeing that there’s going to be a clinician in the back with that patient that we have to transport.”

She says it will also alleviate the stresses of being a lone worker and the risks that come with it.

“Whether that’s your personal or emotional wellbeing but also manual handling. Imagine trying to lift a person off the floor by yourself, you’ve got to call for assistance and it just delays.”

St John chief executive Peter Bradley described ending single-crewed callouts as “one of the most significant developments in our ambulance service history”.

New Zealand is the only firstworld ambulance service with single-crewed ambulance responses, and they could be happening up to 100 times a day across the country.

New recruits, Lisa Sturgess and Andrea Gardiner, both had previously been volunteering for St John when they applied for their new paid roles.

“I was working in the tourism industry, as a travel agent,” Lisa says. “I really enjoyed it, but it was just time for a change, this was an opportunity that came up that I couldn’t pass by.”

Andrea, whose role with St John is part-time, says the opportunity also came at the perfect time for her, after volunteering for three years.

“I’m really looking forward to the regular hours and regular days that I know that I’m coming in so I can get that momentum happening.”

Anne-Maree says there were over 120 applicants for the 14 roles, including from some who had lost their job due to Covid-19.