St John to remain

St John has decided to retain a presence in the township, despite urgently needing more volunteers.

In May, a public meeting was held to discuss the future of the service in Owaka after it struggled to crew its ambulance. Owaka St John team leader Karen Bradfield said after several meetings with volunteers, its area committee and St John management, the decision was made to remain in the township.

Other options were explored, including changing to a first-responder unit.

''The idea of not being able to transport a patient didn't really sit well with us,'' Mrs Bradfield said.

With the nearest ambulance at least 20 minutes away in Balclutha, having no patient transport would mean longer waiting times, she said.

For the past few years volunteer numbers had been so low only night shifts were covered. The May meeting attracted three more volunteers, but three long-serving volunteers had since left.

''We have about 10 now, and we will take on as many volunteers as we can get.''

The Owaka station covers halfway to Balclutha and through the Catlins. It is covered by Balclutha during the day.

The Owaka area committee was willing to fund some accommodation in the township for those who lived out of pager coverage, in order to have enough volunteers. Shifts were flexible, and most volunteers would work about three shifts a month.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Mrs Bradfield, or visit the St John website.

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