Community robbed of first response vehicle

Members of the community in Tuakau feel they have been ‘robbed’ by St John. They believe St John has taken their money, enjoyed the publicity and accolades from the Prime Minister for their commitment to rural New Zealand, only to turn their back on Tuakau and ‘steal’ the response vehicle from them.

The above are the issues that have been raised with the Post Newspaper, which may be the case, as at the time of print, there is still no first response vehicle based in Tuakau.

This story is by no means new, and has in fact dragged on since early in March 2015, when St John dismissed Garry McGuire.

A public meeting was held in a attempt to force St John to reinstate Garry. What is interesting is the headline in the Post Newspaper dated, 17 March 2015, read ‘St John says Tuakau unit here to stay.’ This was a comment by St John District Operations Manager Doug Gallagher – so where did things go so wrong?

Are St John being unfairly treated by the whole first response vehicle situation?

The vehicle does belong to them, which means that they can park their vehicle where they like, and task it to respond to incidents they choose.

Is it right for the Tuakau community to question them or even complain about the situation?

This is where this whole story becomes very interesting. In 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both St John and Tuakau Emergency Services Charitable Trust.

This paved the way for the one off payment of $15,000 to kit out the first response vehicle that TESCT would house, and St John would take care of all running costs.

The document confirming this has been put in place,otherwise why would the TESTC give St John $15,000? And why did St John attend the official opening of the TESCT house in Tuakau when it was opened by then Prime Minister John Key, if they had no intention of housing the vehicle in Tuakau? St John need to explain to the people of Tuakau why they have taken their money, why they made empty promises to the community and why they appeared to have lied when they said the unit was here to stay.

The following is the response the Post newspaper received from St John – Doug Gallagher

“St John currently garages the Tuakau first response vehicle in Pukekohe, but continues to co-ordinate and operate the vehicle in the wider Franklin area including Tuakau and Pukekohe. Alternative arrangements for garaging the vehicle in Tuakau are being explored and, once suitable garaging arrangements can be settled, we intend to return the first response vehicle to the area. We are also in the process of launching a campaign for new volunteers in the area. St John continues to be committed to the local Tuakau community and to meeting their needs for an emergency ambulance response. On average, St John attends 1.3 emergency incidents a day in the Tuakau response area and 100% of these are reached within the 30 minute response time target.”


Re: Tuakau first response vehicle feedback:


[1] The reason Tuakau community started this journey was large delays in ambulance services to Tuakau and districts often over two hours in some cases.

[2] When the First response vehicle was operating in Tuakau it attended over 200 call outs successfully, and the vehicle was given to Tuakau by St John management, outfitted to the cost of $15,000 from funds raised in the community and managed by Tuakau Rotary and later passed onto the trust operated by TESCT.

[3]There is a properly set up garage at TESCT house to operate the first response vehicle right now with a backup garage at Tuakau hotel where it first operated from. The house at TESCT is available for accommodation for AUT medical students for St John and over night volunteer accommodation for weekend paramedics.

[4] There is a signed agreement with St John and TESCT to provide a first response vehicle for Tuakau providing TESCT supplied the building.

[5] 30 local volunteers offered themselves for training and were told at training in Pukekohe that the Pukekohe area committee did not want a First Response Vehicle in Tuakau so they would be wasting their time being trained.

[6] St John management in Pukekohe used their power of not being responsible under the employment act provisions to dismiss volunteers like Garry McGuire so there was no staffing for Tuakau. At the Tuakau public meetings it was stated they would not remove the First Response Vehicle from Tuakau, then promptly took it to Pukekohe and parked it outside to rust away with the equipment Tuakau paid for inside.

[7]The Tuakau First Response Vehicle can be based in Tuakau right now saving lives, it just needs St John to move the vehicle back into the buildings provided for it. Local volunteers, Auckland qualified volunteers, will provide the staff, TESCT has a beautiful building set up ready to go as opened by PM John Key, it just needs the local Pukekohe area committee and St John management to act on their promises to the people of Tuakau.

[8] Having worked with the great people in the Tuakau community and TESCT since its inception on this project it is frustrating that the building is ready, the vehicle is outfitted, the volunteers to staff it are found, it just needs the current St John management to act on what the community needs and save lives in our area.

Richard Gee


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