Stratford will soon get a much-needed new ambulance station and St John centre.
St John Territory manager, Roger Blume, says the old station will be demolished to make way for the new building, work on which will start in the next few weeks.
"The current station has served its purpose well over the years, but we have outgrown it. The ambulances themselves have actually outgrown the garage in the current building."
Roger says only one of the St John ambulances actually fits into the garage, as through the years the vehicles have got bigger.
"We have had staff having to go outside to unload and clean the equipment which isn't ideal. It also has meant our night time crews have found themselves having to go out and de-ice a windscreen on a cold winter's night before they can respond to a call out."
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke says the new building is a positive for the town.
"When fully operational the building will lead to an improved and more resilient ambulance service for our district. I am really pleased to have been able to support and facilitate this project, which will future proof the ambulance service in our community for many years to come."
Peter McDonald, chairperson of Stratford St John, says the new building comes at a total cost of $1.45 million.
It has been made possible thanks to generous funding from Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET), TSB Community Trust and Todd Energy, as well plenty of fundraising over the years.
With Inglewood St John in recess, Peter says the Stratford team also stations an ambulance in Inglewood each day to respond to call-outs there quickly.
"Money from St John Inglewood has also gone into this building fund, and in return we are able to make sure Inglewood residents have an ambulance close by."
Peter says the project has been supported by the community as well as mayor Neil Volzke and the Council.
:We have been lucky to have been able to call on people for support, and will continue to do so as the project progresses. We still need to raise more money in order to get the best possible end result."
The new building has been designed for the future, says Peter.
"It has space for more ambulances than we currently have, as well as a large kitchen and lounge area for the staff to use when they aren't on call-outs. There are also the sleeping / rest areas for staff to use, as well as some office space for managers. The three large training rooms can be used individually, or opened out to create one larger training space when needed."
Having the training space separate to the ambulance area is important, says Peter, as it allows the building to meet the needs of two different groups at the same time.
"We have over 30 St John Cadets in Stratford now, who will meet regularly in the building, at the same time as we have our ambulance crews working out of it. All our ambulances in Stratford are double crewed, and we have two on in the day, and one ambulance at night, so it is always busy."