A new St John Ambulance system has improved, rather than downgraded the ambulance response in Turangi, St John said.

St John changed its ambulance cover system in the Taupo district about a month ago after receiving government funding to double crew all ambulances.

St John's Central East district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said the new system meant there was always ambulance cover available in Turangi and ambulances now had two staff, instead of having a single St John officer working alone, as happened around 60 per cent of the time in Turangi in the past.

The new system split each day into a 12-hour shift.


At the start of each shift, an ambulance containing a qualified paramedic and a second crew member, headed to Turangi to replace the ambulance and crew finishing their 12-hour shift.

If the Turangi ambulance needed to transport a patient to Taupo Hospital, a Taupo ambulance was sent to replace it.

St John is also going to have a first response vehicle in Turangi which will be called out if the ambulance is on another job.

Mr Gooders said the change came after government funding to double crew every ambulance in New Zealand with paid crew by 2021.

Taupo and Turangi were among the first to benefit, with 10 new staff employed who are rotated between the two towns, including two who were previously working in Turangi.

"We certainly do have an ambulance service in Turangi and we've enhanced the ambulance service in Turangi," he said.

"Now, Turangi is getting served by a fully-paid double crewed ambulance and we're sending another one down if that goes [out]. And the paramedics are all rotated to a busy Taupo station as well as Turangi so we've been able to recruit and retain good staff."

Mr Gooders said double crewing meant better outcomes for patients as well.

"We know statistically you've got more chance of surviving a cardiac arrest if there's two people responding and it's better for our staff health and safety and for our performance as well, because often when a single-crewed ambulance went out they would have to call another ambulance out [to help]."


Turangi Fire Brigade chief Tangonui Kingi, whose brigade members turned out to life-threatening medical events to support St John in accordance with a national agreement between the two organisations, said the St John changes were positive for the Turangi community.

He said initial community fears that they would be losing out were unfounded.

"I think our community are getting a much better response in terms of medical staff being around more than in days gone by ... I don't think that there's anybody that's going to say that having two qualified people in an ambulance is going to be a bad thing."

St John officers Brendon Feck and Kate Wills were both former St John volunteers who took up paid positions after the move to double crewing and said they were fortunate to have been offered front line positions.

Moving into paid roles also makes it easier to upskill.

Brendon hoped to begin studying for a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in paramedicine, and Kate is working towards her National Diploma in Ambulance Practice.