No lack of city St John volunteers

Dunedin's St John has more volunteers than it needs - a far cry from the situation facing St John's regional branches.

St John has struggled to find volunteers in rural areas in Otago and Southland, the service often calling on Dunedin for help.

A near-record 22 people had signed up for this month's Dunedin intake, operations team manager Doug Third said.

The charity had 60 volunteers and 35 paid staff in Dunedin, he said.

Of the 60 volunteers, 30 were involved with the ambulance section.

The 22 new recruits would begin training by mid-July and would be operational by September.

''With the natural attrition rate there are gaps that need to be filled, but the recruitment of 22 in July will fill this.

''We're lucky to have the population to call on.''

Because of staff shortages in rural areas, patients had been waiting longer for some services.

Ambulances were often called from neighbouring towns and call-outs for minor incidents further tied up ambulance staff. In New Zealand, St John treated and transported about 400,000 people every year. Financial constraints were an issue nationwide and the annual appeal week, held last month, was the charity's largest fundraising activity.

Dunedin's St John sought to buy an MCI portable radio cache for major events such as the Cadbury Dunedin Marathon, Otago Peninsula Challenge and Otago Rally.

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