Meeting ambulance officer Joy Carter, right, was one of the things that inspired the ambulance donation. Joy told Mervyl Lang, left, about how the automated stretchers in the latest ambulances take the load off paramedics. Testing out the power lifting stretcher is Evelyn Page resident Myra Hunter.
A fully equipped, state of the art ambulance, valued at $220,000 has been donated to St John by a generous Hibiscus Coast family.
The donor, Mervyl Lang of Orewa and her family, decided to purchase a new ambulance after Mervyl’s mother, Marie Jaques, had to call upon an ambulance after a fall in Mangawhai last year. Marie broke both knees in the fall.
Mervyl says her mother, aged 82, told her that the ambulance which picked her up was “a rickety old thing”. It also had an older style stretcher, which needs to be manually lifted by St John officers.
After her mother’s fall, Mervyl made contact with Silverdale ambulance officer Joy Carter, who told her about the problems officers can have with back strain using the old stretchers. The latest ambulances come equipped with electronically operated stretchers that require no manual lifting.
Mervyl says it broke her heart to hear of the difficulties faced by St John officers and that, along with her gratitude for the help given to her mother, was the reason for the donation.
Marie lives at Evelyn Page, in Orewa and the ambulance was blessed in a ceremony at the retirement village on October 16 before it went on the road. The vehicle is now one of three based in Silverdale that serve the Hibiscus Coast community.
At the blessing, St John Northern Region general manager Glen Hill said that a private donor giving an ambulance is rare. Generally the money for replacement vehicles comes from Trusts and Foundations or the pool of general donations.
He said a busy day for Silverdale St John could involve up to 20 incidents.
“All these calls are very important, and Mervyl is a hero in these stories because she stepped up to put an ambulance on the road,” Mr Hill said. “She is humble, but should be very proud of what she’s done.”
St John Patron, Richard Blundell, has been involved with the service for 15 years. He told the assembled crowd of St John representatives, Evelyn Page staff and residents that it is particularly special that a family is involved.
He said that the ambulance will be on the road for around eight years and in that time could transport as many as 30,000 patients.
“What a fantastic gift to the community,” he said.