Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Lone St John officer ambushed for drugs

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

St John's Ambulance have described the attack on a sole female officer who was assaulted after she responded to a fake call for help in Hamilton as "absolutely despicable''.

The experienced ambulance driver was alone when she was attacked after she was waved down on Cameron Rd at 12.35am by a man apparently seeking help for another man lying on the ground next to him.

While helping the man on the ground, two other men joined the group, forcing the ambulance officer into the vehicle and demanding drugs.

While the ambulance was being searched for drugs, two of the men assaulted the driver who managed to alert ambulance and police before escaping.

Eddie Jackson, St John Ambulance's regional general manager said the woman suffered no significant physical injuries but was ``very, very upset by the experience''.

"St John takes very seriously the safety of its officers as well as the security of its patients and to have such a premeditated act to interrupt both the response of the vehicle and then to act in such a way I find absolutely despicable,'' he said.

"I'm at a bit of a loss for words to express how I feel about this particular action.''

"Fortunately it's a very infrequent scenario which makes it all the more horrific that it does actually occur.''

The officer is now on leave and receiving support.

Detective Inspector Chris Page said police were seeking the public's support to find males aged 18 and 19, who were after illegal drugs that are not stocked in ambulances.

"These offenders have shown absolutely no respect for the service that St John's provides for this community,'' he said.

"No matter whether you are the worst criminal or for that matter myself as a member of police we all rely heavily on St Johns to provide that service in that magic and critical hour.''

Mr Page said the men had crossed a line by attacking an ambulance officer and interrupting their service to save someone's life.

"How would they feel if that was one of their family who this ambulance was on its way to ?''

A forensic examination of the ambulance was taking place today.

St John's Ambulance is working with police to get a clearer picture of what damage was caused to the ambulance and what supplies and equipment were taken.

Anyone with information is asked to ring the Hamilton Police station on (07) 8586200. Information can also be provided anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- APNZ

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