Defibrillator theft dismays St John

Philips HeartStart MRx monitor-defibrillator similar to the device taken from a St John Queenstown ambulance on Sunday night. Photo supplied.
Philips HeartStart MRx monitor-defibrillator similar to the device taken from a St John Queenstown ambulance on Sunday night. Photo supplied.
An 18-year-old man has been apprehended by Queenstown police following the theft of a $30,000 defibrillator from an ambulance while its crew dealt with an emergency.

St John Queenstown ambulance officers were ''distraught and extremely disappointed'' by the theft of a Philips HeartStart MRx monitor-defibrillator from the closed, unlocked ambulance during a medical call at Pinewood Lodge, Hamilton Rd, at 10.50pm on Sunday, St John Central Otago territory manager Kelvin Perriman, of Queenstown, said yesterday.

''While the ambulance crew were attending to the patient inside, someone ...entered the ambulance and removed a cardio monitor and defibrillator,'' he said.

''The crew were unaware until they got back to the station the device had gone from the ambulance, so potentially it could have put lives at risk, although we do carry a smaller back-up automated external defibrillator.''

Queenstown volunteer firefighters, answering a false alarm in nearby Robins Rd at 11.10pm, saw a man, carrying the red defibrillator case, with a woman.

Police were contacted and the area was searched but the offender could not be found, Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown, said yesterday.

An 18-year-old man was apprehended by police yesterday in relation to the incident, although details about charges were not available.

Mr Perriman said the MRx had been recovered and appeared undamaged, but it would be out of use while it was sent away for testing.

St John Queenstown had two other devices, so service would not be compromised.

However, Mr Perriman said coping with tens of thousands of summer holidaymakers put St John under pressure.