Ambulance appeals to small businesses

17:00, Jun 18 2013

Wellington's $20 million-a-year free ambulance service is flashing its lights at thousands of local businesses in the hopes of attracting $200 sponsorships.

The Wellington Free Ambulance has announced a new fundraising initiative which aims to bandage over the service's annual $5 million budget shortfall.

Wellington Free Ambulance provides free emergency ambulance paramedic services to about 450,000 people in greater Wellington, including Wairarapa.

Chief executive Diana Crossan said the scheme would target $200 donations from local businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

"We're hoping to get support throughout the city from every kind of business that has a few staff and it's a sort of thing we would hope would happen every year.

"We'll have stickers for their shop window or a logo for their website that says ‘We're a business supporter of Wellington Free'."

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Crossan said the government provided $15 million to the service annually, but it needed to find its own funding for the extra $5 million needed to operate the ambulances.

"We struggle each year; we really push it.

"One of the things that hasn't happened is the business community. They've rallied at times when we've needed a special thing but not in terms of a regular payment, so talking to quite a few small businesses, we thought this would work."

It was expected at least 1000 local businesses would support the partnership, she said.

Wellington Free Ambulance needed to buy five new ambulances every year, which cost about $258,000 each.

Crossan said extra equipment was expensive as well.

"To maintain our level of service we constantly need to update the training of our people, the equipment they use and the support services around them."

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