The Murupara community has been left without an ambulance after important communication equipment was stolen from the volunteer station.
St John Lakes territory manager Leisa Tocknell said the equipment was estimated to have been stolen between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning and since the ambulance vehicle itself was now a crime scene, the community had been without access to the service.
The stolen equipment included a mobile data terminal, an electronic patient report form, a hand-held radio and a mobile phone.
Tocknell said the mobile data terminal was a "vital piece of equipment" for ambulance officers but useless to others.
"It's the way we get the patient addresses, what type of job we're going to and any safety notices."
The electronic patient report form is a tablet and the phone allows ambulance staff and volunteers to communicate with headquarters if the radio is down. The handheld radio is used for communicating while out and about.
"If something goes wrong we can use the radio to get help. It's our lifeline back to comms for any reason, whether it's safety or we need to call for help."
Tocknell estimated the total value of the stolen items was "a few $1000" as the handheld radio cost almost $1000 itself.
She expected the ambulance to be back in use this afternoon after crime scene investigators had examined it but the community had been without its use for over 24 hours. The closest ambulance was in Rotorua.
"The community is suffering because of it ...but no patient has been compromised.
"We do have a contingency plan but it has disrupted the volunteer service of Murupara."
Here is some information on St John Murupara.
St John Murupara is a volunteer-first response unit. A team of eight volunteers from the local community responds to urgent ambulance calls in the area.
"The volunteers at Murupara give up their own time to perform these duties. They truly have a heart of gold," Tocknell said.
"To have a break-in at the local station is very disappointing and quite frankly appalling."
She said the crime had been reported to the police.
The police have been contacted for comment.
Tocknell was asking anyone with information to contact the police or return the items to the Murupara or Rotorua ambulance stations.