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St John Ambulance WA57HXN Graham Richardson 9 Feb 2010 CC BY 2.0

Volunteers please!

What are the obstacles to extending the hours of emergence service availability?

One of our groups of Nursing students carried out their community research project with the rural Southland community of Tuatapere. Tuatapere has a medical centre run by a nurse practitioner, supported by a visiting GP. But the ambulance service for emergency care is only available three days per week. Outside of those times locals have to wait up to four hours for an ambulance to come from another centre.

The ambulance service's limited availability was due to a lack of volunteers. The students found two reasons for the low number of volunteers:

  • Volunteers had to pay for their own training.
  • Qualified medical professionals were expected to do the training too.

To address the lack of ambulance volunteers, the students sent a submission to the Minister of Health, asked for the government to pay for the training for ambulance volunteers, and for the training requirements to recognise volunteers' relevant qualifications.

Image credit: Graham Richardson, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

June 2019