A new purpose-built vehicle has been launched to help St John Ambulance volunteers in Porangahau.

It is one of 14 Volkswagen First Response Units being rolled out to rural communities across the country.

Hawke's Bay territory manager Brendon Hutchinson said the first response vehicle could carry everything the volunteers need, as well as having the ability to transfer patients a short distance, for example, to meet an oncoming ambulance.

"It's purpose built, it's nice to be able to give our volunteers who give so much of their time, especially in the rural communities, a nice vehicle and a purpose-built vehicle to work out of."

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There are currently six volunteers officers in Porangahau, who provide care for patients while an ambulance, usually from Waipukurau, arrives.

He said the launch of the vehicle had gone really well, with about 45 attendees, including current and former volunteers.

"It was great to see the volunteers who started this many, many years ago, turning up to celebrate alongside our current volunteers."

They had also used the launched to recruit new volunteers, and had been approached by two people, which Hutchinson described as "fantastic".

The new vehicle has everything the team needs, including the ability to transfer patients short distances. Photo / Supplied
The new vehicle has everything the team needs, including the ability to transfer patients short distances. Photo / Supplied

"We can always use more volunteers within the community.

"We've got a team of six at the moment, and that team of six, they've got families, they've got lives, they can't respond every time there is a job in Porangahau.

"They do their absolute best, but we need probably another four volunteers, so we are actively on the look out, and if anyone within the Porangahau community wishes to volunteers or join, they can get hold of the local guys out there or myself if they are keen."

He said the current team do an amazing job but there is currently no way to guarantee someone will be available.

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"If we could add just a few more, that would be amazing."

To start with, there will be 14 of the new Volkswagen First Response Units rolled out around rural communities across New Zealand, with up to 60 more to follow in the next three years.

Pongaroa will also be getting one of the original 14 units.

Russell, Maungaturoto, Dargaville, Hahei, Mokau, Opunake, Murupara, Waihau Bay, Hicks Bay, Te Kaha, Opotiki and Picton are the other 12 communities who will be the original beneficiaries of the scheme.