Work is underway on Stratford's new ambulance station.

Peter McDonald, chair of Stratford St John, says the "much-needed" ambulance station and St John centre comes at a total cost of $1.5 million.

"The building has been made possible thanks to generous funding from the Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET) as well as the TSB Community Trust and Todd Energy, and plenty of fundraising over the years."

He says the building will be completed by December, ensuring Stratford will continue to have ambulances in the town for generations to come.

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"Without the funding we have received from funders like TET, this project would not have got off the ground. Had we not been able to get this new station built, Stratford would not have had an ambulance station in the community, and we would have faced a long wait for ambulances to arrive from New Plymouth in an emergency.

"That wasn't something the community was going to tolerate."

Peter says the new building will include garaging for four ambulances, as well as staff accommodation for the crews.

"It will also have a couple of meeting rooms which can be used by St John and the wider Stratford community. Having accommodation in the building is vital when you consider Stratford has an ambulance crew available day and night, every day of the year. This gives the crew space to relax, eat and sleep when they aren't on a callout."

Peter McDonald, pictured standing on the building site, says the project should be completed by the end of the year.
Peter McDonald, pictured standing on the building site, says the project should be completed by the end of the year.

The old building was long outgrown, Peter says, making the new building an urgent need.

"The old ambulance bays couldn't actually fit some of the newer ambulances inside, meaning crews were having to clean and equip the ambulance outside, in the dark and cold, some nights. This was a health and safety issue and couldn't be allowed to continue."

Had a new building not been possible, Peter says he believes Stratford would have lost the station completely.

"While we were fortunate to have some funding through a few streams, plus a sizeable donation from Inglewood St John which is now in recess, it is only thanks to the foresight and community awareness of the Taranaki Electricity Trust trustees who signed off on a $600,000 grant for the project that we don't find ourselves without an ambulance base in our town.

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"They have been really supportive throughout and that support will make a real difference to anyone in the district whoever needs to call an ambulance. Without that support, people would be facing a very long, stressful wait in an emergency for an ambulance to arrive from some 40 minutes away."

Peter says Stratford District Council have also been supportive of the project, helping with the consent process and in other ways.

"This has been a real community effort."

While the building is underway, the St John team are based out of temporary quarters in Stratford, and send an ambulance to Inglewood daily as well.

"With Inglewood St John in recess, they kindly donated money to the Stratford building project. In return, we have an ambulance from here which bases itself in Inglewood each day to ensure the Inglewood community are also looked after."

The final building, says Peter, will benefit generations to come.

"I think the building is really a tribute to all the St John volunteers and team members through the years who have stood on the sidelines of games and events in Stratford, providing valuable care to our community.

"It is built on the backs of their efforts, and it is possible thanks to every single person who has ever donated to St John in our community."