The Waikato community is calling on one of the area's longest serving paramedics to have his job reinstated because they believe he was unfairly demoted.

A petition calling for John Holmes' reinstatement as a paramedic because they believe the disciplinary action dished out was too severe has gathered immense support with more than 4000 people signing it.

St John says it cannot comment on the employment case but stresses it has thorough processes for reviewing clinical practice levels of its staff.

Holmes has been an ambulance driver for 35 years and a paramedic for 20 years mainly in Huntly, Te Kauwhata and Ngaruawahia.


He was demoted to an emergency medical technician because he had not completed the correct paperwork, according to petition organiser Suzanne Smith.

Smith said it was her understanding a patient had said she was going to cancel the ambulance and declined treatment, but Holmes and the other paramedic he was with did not get her to sign a form confirming she was okay.

She believed the decision by St John was very harsh after what appeared to be a single blemish and would have a huge impact on the communities needing urgent medical treatment.

Smith, who had also been treated by Holmes in her 14 years living in Huntly, had written to St John medical director Dr Tony Smith appealing the severity of the disciplinary action, but had been told St John had carried out a thorough process and stood by the decision.

She said it now meant Huntly residents could have to wait 25 minutes for back-up to carry out certain skills that only paramedics are allowed to do such as inserting IVs, giving IV pain relief and administering other drugs.

The incident happened six months ago and the paramedics were allowed to continue in their roles until the process was completed, she said.

"If somebody was that severe wouldn't they be suspended until a decision was made? ... If someone's ability is in question and they are thought to be in danger of hurting a patient then surely that would have been taken off him right at the beginning."

Others residents who have signed the petition have also commented that it appeared to be an extreme reaction to someone not completing paperwork and said he had been "saving lives" in the Waikato region for years.


One of Smith's colleagues said her husband wouldn't be alive if it had not been for Holmes saving his life and the local fire service had also shown their support.

Huntly ward councillor Shelley Lynch said the community was very disappointed over the severity of the ruling for a highly thought of, well-known and long-serving paramedic.

"The community will miss out on medical services that John has provided for all these years."

When approached by the Herald, Holmes said he was unable to comment.

St John Director of Clinical Operations Norma Lane said the organisation could not discuss details of individual employment matters.

"However, we have thorough processes for reviewing and determining the clinical practice level of our staff, and decisions to alter the clinical practice level of an ambulance officer are made by a panel of clinicians, including a peer paramedic.

"The infrequent and serious decision to alter the clinical practice level of an ambulance officer is always very carefully considered, taking into account the risk to the safety of our patients and the welfare of our staff, and such decisions are never based solely on a single incident of administrative oversight."