Two new purpose-built ambulance stations are to be built in Rotorua that will mean faster response times to emergencies.
The two new stations and a community hub, which the current station at Pererika St will become, would cost $3.5 million to build and fundraising is underway.
The current station and community facility has outgrown the needs of the Rotorua
community and is no longer fit for purpose, a St John statement said.
The new stations will be a deployment centre at the former VTNZ building on Fairy Springs Rd and a main station at a yet-to-be-disclosed site at Lynmore.
They will provide room for clinical training and modern facilities for ambulance staff.
The confirmed plans come after St John made the announcement for the new stations two years ago but since then there had been little said publicly.
In March staff anonymously expressed their concerns to the Rotorua Daily Post about management's plans to build two stations, saying they feared it could cost lives as the main station was being built at Lynmore, and away from a majority of their callouts on the western suburbs of Rotorua.
The staff were also concerned they weren't being consulted enough about the plans.
A St John statement, released today , said extensive research had been undertaken by St John and had highlighted these two locations as the optimum positions for emergency response vehicles to be based.
The statement said there was currently only one location to respond to emergencies, limiting the ability to reach patients within the Ministry of Health target of eight minutes for priority incidents.
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The statement said adding a secondary station would improve response times by up to
10 per cent.
The service delivery model planned for Rotorua had been implemented in other areas
of the country resulting in significant improvements, the statement said. New Plymouth had seen more than seven per cent improvement in response times, while Palmerston North had seen a six per cent improvement.
St John district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said a new station was well
overdue, and providing the staff with modern amenities was a priority for St John.
"Our ambulance officers do an amazing job responding to over 600 incidents in the
Rotorua area each month and it is important we provide them with the most fit-for-
purpose facility possible.
"After engaging with staff and the community we believe the two locations will achieve
the best possible outcome for patients and ambulance officers."
The current site would be redeveloped as a community hub housing St John Community
Services such as youth, the health shuttle, public first aid training and clinical
education for St John ambulance officers.
A St John staff member, who did not want to be named, said management had met with staff and informed them of their plans.
"They have agreed that staff will finally get to have a look once the plans are drawn up this time and have a say to ensure they are functional."
The staff member said there were mixed emotions, with concerns about the main station at Lynmore being built away from most of their workload on the west side of town and delays getting to the other side of town for urgent jobs.
"But we will have a new fit-for-purpose station and after decades and tens of thousands of dollars wasted on multiple plans, it's nice to finally have a clear direction on our future."
Meanwhile, fundraising has started for the $3.5 million needed to build the station, deployment point and community hub.
St John central region general manager Andrew Boyd said the community was vital to
the success of the builds.
"As a charity, St John relies on the generosity of the public, and we are confident the
people of Rotorua will get behind this venture."
The project is expected to take no more than two years to complete the three stages.
If you would like to donate to the project, please contact Marie Scott at the Rotorua
office, Pererika St, phone 07 349 7680.
* St John responds to an average 21 incidents a day in the Rotorua area
* St John has contracts with the Ministry of Health and ACC which fund more than 72 per cent of the budgeted operating costs to run the ambulance service. The
remaining 28 per cent - over $65 million a year - is funded through emergency
ambulance part charges and fundraising activities.