St John misses remote response target

More than half the patients needing an ambulance in remote Otago areas were left waiting longer than the St John Ambulance Service response time target of 25 minutes, figures from St John show.

Between May and October this year, 43% of ambulances reached patients in remote areas within 25 minutes. St John's target was to reach 50% of patients within that timeframe.

Remote areas are 150km away from an ambulance station.

St John Waitaki District operations manager Glenn Cockburn said St John had a new 111 emergency system, which would improve response times in remote areas by allocating the closest ambulance to the most seriously ill or injured patient.

He said there were times when St John did not have enough resources to meet its targets.

St John Otago exceeded all other response time targets, reaching 63% of Dunedin city patients within 12 minutes, and 61% in rural Otago within 20 minutes. St John Otago's target is 50%.

Mr Cockburn said the South Dunedin ambulance station which opened last year had improved response times within Dunedin.

St John communications co-ordinator Alena Lynch said urban areas included Dunedin and Mosgiel. However, the peninsula was considered rural due to the winding roads.

"Bad weather can also hinder our ability to get out to a call," she said.

St John has 17 ambulance stations across Otago and Mr Cockburn said volunteers were essential to ensuring strong response times.

"Without our volunteers, St John would not be able to deliver the services to our communities."

- Cameron Carpenter 



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