Cromwell's growth puts pressure on ambulance service

Cromwell's St John ambulance service needs 15 more volunteers to keep up with the needs of the growing town. (File photo)
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Cromwell's St John ambulance service needs 15 more volunteers to keep up with the needs of the growing town. (File photo)

Cromwell's growth is putting pressure on the town's ambulance service.

Cromwell St John area committee station manager Dave Anderson said St John needed at least 15 new volunteers to meet the needs of the town's burgeoning growth.

Cromwell, which is 45 minutes drive away from Queenstown, is one of the fastest-growing small towns in the country with its population shooting up from about 2500 to nearly 5000 in the space of a few years.

The Cromwell service has 13 volunteers, nine of whom are active. Volunteer first responders for emergency situations were most in need, he said.

"Ideally, we need 25 active volunteers to cover all our bases."

Volunteering ranged from emergency first response and driving the St John Health shuttle to Dunedin to providing first aid at events and filling vacancies on the area committee, he said.

"It has been estimated the equivalent dollar value of contributions of the country's volunteers to ambulance operations is upwards of $30 million a year so we can't emphasise enough just how important their role is in our community."

There was often a misunderstanding that a volunteer needed to be a trained nurse or doctor, but that was not the case.

"We have volunteers who don't have any medical training before coming to us while others are doing degrees in para-medicine. St John provides all of the volunteer training from its funding."

Courses started with first responder training over two full weekends with other courses, such as ambulance and shuttle driving, spread out over the year.

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The youth division was also looking to expand numbers, he said.

Volunteers must be over the age of 18, but as long as a person was fit and able and held a full driver licence then there was no upper age limit.

Cromwell Newcomers Network co-ordinator Sharon Smid said given the service's contribution to the recent growth in the town, the group had organised a quiz night with food, a blind auction, and raffle so the community could show how much they valued the essential service and perhaps consider becoming a volunteer.

"Everyone knows how vital St John is but sometimes it gets taken for granted the service will always be there when it's needed. This is a fantastic opportunity for people not only to show their appreciation for St John but to come out for the night and enjoy themselves."

The event, themed "It's Not Mastermind but….", would be held at Cromwell Sports Centre on Saturday from 7pm. Teams of up to four were asked to put their names down now.

Real estate auctioneer Neil Bulling would exercise his vocal chords as the quizmaster before changing hats later in the evening to conduct a blind auction. There was no eftpos available.

Smid said over 150 people had joined the group or expressed interest in joining since its inauguration 18 months ago.

"Members have arrived in Cromwell and the surrounding district from as far away as England and Australia and from all over New Zealand."

Anderson would be at the event with St John's quiz team and be able to chat with anyone who wanted to get involved in the service.

 - Stuff

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