A new ambulance designed specifically to support rural and remote communities has arrived in the small Bay of Plenty town of Murupara.

On Saturday, an open day was held for the community and St John volunteers at the Murupara ambulance station at which the new First Response Unit was blessed.

The new ambulance, part of a fleet of 14 Volkswagen First Response Units handed over to St John last month, will improve emergency response times to the isolated community.

They are part of a model designed specifically to support remote areas, quickly finding and assessing patients, transporting them locally, or to a helicopter or transporting ambulance which is ideal for the rural areas.


St John assistant director of operations Tony Devanney said the fit-for-purpose vehicles were smaller and nimbler than a traditional ambulance.

"They are ideal for narrow roads, difficult terrain and St John first responders working outside metropolitan areas.

The new emergency response vehicle. Photo / Supplied
The new emergency response vehicle. Photo / Supplied

"These new units have ample room for treating and stabilising patients while a transporting ambulance is on the way, ensuring the best possible clinical care for our patients," Devanney said.

St John territory manager Leisa Tocknell said Murupara relied entirely on a volunteer workforce.

"The team do amazing things in difficult situations, often treating sick whānau and
helping people at their most vulnerable."

"They go out and perform amazing feats, really making a difference to the people of
Murupara," Tocknell said.

Devanney said contributions from donors around the country had made the delivery of the vehicles possible.

"The development of this new First Response Unit is a great example of New
Zealanders coming together to ensure all communities have access to the best
emergency health care possible," he said.


Up to another 60 vehicles will be deployed nationwide over the next two to three years.