Smoother service for St John
Providing the best possible emergency care for the East Coast is what Keith Baldwin and his team at St John Ruatorea strive for every single day.
When an emergency call comes in, time is of the essence, as much as the condition of the roads.
One call-out can mean a five-hour return journey, as the team covers the entire area from Tolaga to Waihau Bay with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service.
Keith has been station manager for 12 years and has noticed the impact of the investment into the East Coast roads in more ways than one.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the roads in such good shape up here. There’s been a real focus on the coast’s rural roads and people are really buzzing about it,” he said.
How quickly and safely Keith’s team of seven part and full-time paramedics can get to the patient and then transport them to hospital makes all the difference.
“Making the patient comfortable when we’re negotiating potholes is a huge challenge, so having the roads in a good condition helps a lot,” he said.
“As paramedics, we’re also constantly thinking about alternative routes to get to hospital if the State Highway isn’t an option.
“Roads like Mata, Tauwhareparae, Hokoroa and Waimata are key for us in an emergency. The fact that the investment has been put there makes me sleep better at night.
“A lot of people ask about the rescue helicopter service, which we rely on, but when bad weather sets in, we’re on our own.”
Keith has also noticed how busy the Ruatoria community has been recently.
“It’s clear to see that local contractors are growing and there are jobs on offer. More and more good news is coming out of Ruatorea. The investment here has made a difference, not only on the roads but also for the people and we see and hear it first-hand,” he said.
Council has invested over $60m into Tairāwhiti local roads this year across 26 projects, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund and the Tairāwhiti Redeployment Programme. Over 500 local people are working on these projects including more than 250 redeployed and newly recruited workers.