A dental emergency last Christmas sparked Bob Clarkson and his wife to donate a fully kitted out new ambulance to Mount Maunganui St John Ambulance service.

The well-known philanthropist handed over the keys to St John representative Norm Harris during a special ceremony at the branch headquarters yesterday.

St John chaplain Reverend Jim Wallace dedicated the new ambulance which cost just over $200,000 kitted out with the latest emergency first response equipment.

Mr Clarkson told the audience, which included wife Martha, daughter and grand-daughter and other St John representatives, he had used the service four to five times over the years, and it was a cause dear to his heart.


That included last Christmas when he was in severe pain after his dentist tried to extract a wisdom tooth, and he ended up with four broken pieces lodged in his jaw.

"I was in dire straits but I managed to called an ambulance," he said.

"These two guys, James and Kevin arrived and they were very professional, and to me they were quite amazing in the way they treated me and what they did that day."

Paramedic James Spencer even used some tissues to wipe some blood off the floor before he and emergency medical technician Kevin Ralph took him to hospital, he said.

"It was really great and I wrote out the cheque there and then, and have signed it because of the care and professionalism of these two men," he said.

Mr Ralph and Mr Spencer told the Bay of Plenty Times they were simply doing their jobs and felt "very humbled" to be singled out by Mr Clarkson.

St John Ambulance district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said this was "an incredibly generous" gift, which allowed the organisation to update its ageing fleet.

The new ambulance replaced one that had clocked up 500,000km and came fully kitted out with the latest first responder gear and resuscitation equipment, he said.


Mr Gooders said that included a $60,000 electric Stryker stretcher which allowed St John staff to uplift patients weighing up to 318kg at the press of a button.

"That will not only reduce injuries for our staff but be far more comfortable for patients."

Tauranga and Mount Maunganui St John Ambulance staff attended between 1150 and 1200 jobs a month, up about 4 per cent on last year, Mr Gooders said.