Whittled-down winter crew


Budget constraints have cut St John Wakatipu ambulance winter crew numbers.

Six additional staff joined the team on Wednesday, down from eight last year.

Station boss Keith Raymond admits funds have been cut but is confident it will still deliver an excellent service.

“We have rationalised our resources. We are able to have similar [ambulance] crewing levels with less staff while having the same response requirement.”

He says bringing in eight was simply unaffordable.

That means three ambulances on the road at any time, unlike three-and-a-half last year.

He reckons it couldn’t cope without bringing in extra staff during the busy ski season, swelling ranks to 16.

“The additional winter staff allow us to maintain our normal Queenstown responses as well as the extra ski area workload. We are aware that an ambulance could be up [The] Remarkables for an hour and a half.”

The newbies will be in town till early October - depending on snow.

As a sign of its increasing workload, ambos ferried 230 sick and injured snow bunnies off Coronet Peak and The Remarkables between June and October 2013.

That jumped to 343 in 2014.

NZSki outsourced medical services at its Queenstown fields to Australian company Medical Rescue last year, leading to a drop in St John’s 2015 patient numbers to 341.

Medical Rescue boss Glenn McKay tells Mountain Scene it’s boosting emergency medical equipment on the mountain this year.

“We have hired a team of over 20 experienced emergency doctors, emergency nurses, physiotherapists and qualified paramedics to work alongside the ski patrols.”

Coronet Peak skifield opened for business last weekend and The Remarkables opens today.