With an earthquake risk to Eketahuna's St John ambulance bay and the town facing low volunteer interest, the community will soon be asked whether retaining the service is a viable option.

St John had previously confirmed that they would be taking a "keen interest in exploring options for Eketahuna's emergency service" after its ambulance bay was deemed earthquake-prone last year.

But Eketahuna Community Board member Di Eagle said the community had to be "galvanised" to decide "what we want, where we want it, how we want it, and then get behind it".

She raised the issue at Friday's community board meeting, days out from the start of St John's Annual Appeal.


"I've been thinking of starting a discussion with the community regarding the future of St John in our town," she said.

"I've been having conversations with volunteers and we are wondering whether the cost of having a garage, or building a new garage facility, is actually the right way to go for the community in the fact that we don't have up and coming people replacing them as volunteers."

Mrs Eagle said she wanted to raise the issue so the community would be prepared to discuss it at a public meeting next month and "perhaps create a steering group" to drive any projects for St John.

She said there are two sides to the discussion - "is it something we still need or want, or not?"

Eketahuna's St John station manager Debbie Paterson said it was essential that Eketahuna retained its St John service because a shorter response time could be life-saving.

"I did a job on Thursday in Eke and while it was not life-threatening, I was the only one available to actually do it," she said.

"There are times when everyone is so busy, so you can't really rely on the other stations all the time."

She said that although both Pahiatua and Dannevirke stations are manned 24 hours, Pahiatua has a 15-minute drive and Dannevirke has a 40-minute drive.

"Now potentially, that could be the difference between life and death."

A public meeting will be held to discuss this and other community issues on May 8 at the Eketahuna Community Centre from 2-4pm.

St John staff and volunteers will be out with collection buckets throughout New Zealand between April 4 and 10.

Donations can also be made by calling 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646), or visiting www.stjohn appeal.org.nz or at any ASB branch.