Wellington Free has blessed a new $250,000 ambulance today - the second to hit the road this year.
It relies on donations to replace five ambulances each year with the latest addition receiving funding from family and community trusts.
Each ambulance travels about 110,000 kilometres annually and reach the end of life at about 350,000km, spokesman David Baker said.
''They have such a tough life here in Wellington that Mercedes-Benz use us as a case study because of the gradient and twists and turns, which are very tough on the mechanics of the ambulance.''
The latest addition was kitted out with a $13,000 hi-tec stryker stretcher, which was funded by a Wellington Masonic Bowls tournament.
Former Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan, who took up her role as Wellington Free's chief executive yesterday, said about $6 million had to be raised annually to keep the service free.
It is the only ambulance service in the country that doesn't charge patients.
ACC provides funding if paramedics attend an accident and the Ministry of Health helps cover medical call-outs.
But the funding does not cover the total cost of the service, which is why donations are important chairman Ross Martin said.
He said it had been a long time since charging patients had been discussed as keeping it free for everyone was ''so ingrained'' in the organisation.
''We just want to do this so there's no impediment on Wellingtonians using our service.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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