Concerns over ‘missing’ first response vehicle

The Tuakau Emergency Services house, which was recently opened by former Prime Minister John Key, appears to be all locked up and no longer housing the first response vehicle. Concerned residents asked why?

The Tuakau Emergency Service Centre was opened in October last year and was aimed to be a great asset to the town and neighbouring communities. It was hoped it would operate as a training base, be of use for other emergency organisations like Civil Defence, and to house the Tuakau First Response Vehicle.

However, residents are now asking questions about the fundraising, the empty building and the ‘missing’ first response vehicle which many believed was meant to be housed at the emergency services centre  – or was it?

The Post Newspaper was contacted by a concerned member of the Tuakau community who did not understand why the Tuakau Emergency Service Centre appeared to be all locked up and without the first response vehicle.

The Post immediately contacted the Tuakau Emergency Services Charitable Trust (TESCT) for comment and clarity on the situation, and ultimately the whereabouts of the First Response Vehicle. We were informed  that the Trust was in discussions with a number of affected parties and that we could expect a joint press release on the matter.

After waiting almost three weeks for comment, The Post Newspaper decided to contact St John directly. We can now reveal that the vehicle is definitely not in Tuakau, but rather based in Pukekohe.

Doug Gallagher, District Operations Manager in Auckland for the St John Northern Region says, “The St John First Response vehicle is used in and around Franklin and is currently based at Pukekohe with target response times improving for its Tuakau and Pukekohe workloads. Support from the Tuakau Emergency Services Charitable Trust is always appreciated, however St John operates, coordinates and houses the vehicle independently.”

“St John is currently looking to increase frontline volunteer numbers in the Tuakau area and is encouraging locals to call 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646) to get involved.”

What is interesting from the above comment is the fact that Doug mentions the target response times are improving.

Does this mean that the first response vehicle is mostly not the first vehicle to respond to incidents in Tuakau, as it has workloads elsewhere?

We contacted TESCT who released a statement  saying“We have a 20 year lease in place with the Waikato District Council which makes our future secure.”

“We have the rights to use the double garage on site for housing of the First Response vehicle. Auto garage door openers have been installed for quick access.”

TESCT say, “Our role is to provide the facility with the First Response vehicle operated and coordinated by St John. The vehicle is currently housed in Pukekohe, awaiting a formal arrangement for St John to have a base at the TESCT Tuakau facility.”

The centre in Tuakau took four years of fundraising and donations from local businesses and community volunteers.

The plaque on the outside of the house describes the emergency services centre as ‘a community funded project.’

Now, however, the community are asking where the services that they put so much effort into fundraising for, are located? The centre appears all locked up and not being used.

The responses that we received from St John and TESCT seem to be at odds with each other as to where the first response vehicle is going to be located.

According to St John they operate the vehicle independently of  the TESCT, so one wonders why the Trust is spending money on auto garage door openers for a vehicle that may never be housed there? Send us your thoughts – Steve@thepost.nz