Rural ambulance service struggles

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Emergency ambulance call-outs in rural Canterbury have skyrocketed almost 45 per cent since the 2010-2011 earthquakes.

The pressure on volunteer-run rural ambulance stations in areas such as Rolleston, Darfield and Amberley has climbed "significantly" since 2009, St John Canterbury district operations manager Pete Cain said. Residents quitting quake-hit Christchurch for its surrounding rural areas have put added pressure on St John's volunteer-manned stations, increasing rural call-outs from 5201 in 2009 to 7499 last year.

"This is proving challenging for us and with limited resources we have to work out how we are going to deal with this," Cain said.

St John Canterbury has 110 fulltime paid staff and about 600 volunteers.

Kaikoura, Culverden and Ashburton stations are all manned by at least one paid paramedic. Hanmer, Cheviot, Amberley, Darfield, Rolleston, Leeston, Akaroa, Mayfield and Methven stations are run by volunteers, Cain said.

All St John volunteers have completed at least a nine-month first responder course.

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