As an essential emergency service, St John is continuing to operate our emergency ambulance operations and Patient Transfer Services as the country moves to alert level 4 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see below the latest information to help you as this situation unfolds.

We are working very closely with the Ministry of Health and we recommend you follow their guidelines and advice about keeping yourself and others safe.  

Visit covid19.govt.nz to learn the simple steps you can take to unite against COVID-19 and slow its spread.

If you are feeling unwell, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice and information. This is a free, dedicated COVID-19 number that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

As part of our comprehensive pandemic plan we are prioritising:   

  • Protecting our people (so we can continue to be there for the public)
  • Making sure we can maintain delivery of critical services  
  • Continuing to provide services to the community to the best of our ability 

St John's emergency ambulance service continues to operate as normal. Other St John services and personnel are following the Government's guidance and where possible are working from home. 

Our Customer Service Centre continues to operate, from 8.30am - 5.00pm Monday - Sunday, to support you with any general enquiries on St John products and services including Medical Alarms, First Aid training and ambulance account invoices.

As of Monday 23 March, St John has established a National Crisis Coordination Centre (NCCC). Traditionally, this centre ensures we can continue to operate our ambulance service in times of crisis, in coordination with other health and emergency service partners. Click here for more information on how emergency services and their support teams operate under alert level four.

Watch the below video from Dr Tony Smith, St John Medical Director on how we are responding to this evolving situation:

Here’s how we are keeping our patients, customers, supporters and communities safe:

Is the St John emergency ambulance response affected?

We are here to step forward and help the country and, as an essential emergency service, St John is well positioned to respond to a pandemic like COVID-19.

St John has been receiving higher call volumes to our 111 Clinical Communication Centres since the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in New Zealand.

We will continue to provide emergency ambulance services throughout New Zealand. St John triages all 111 calls to determine the urgency of the patient's condition. We aim to send the most appropriate ambulance to the patient in greatest need as soon as possible.

St John ambulance officers frequently deal with infectious diseases and to protect our patients and our people, we follow best practice clinical guidelines, including wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when attending patients with suspected COVID-19.  

We will continue to ensure contaminated surfaces and equipment are cleaned or safely disposed of in biohazard bags and keep the ambulance environment as safe as possible for patients and staff.  

Please note that processes around emergency ambulance transportation of patients to hospital have been updated during the nation’s response to COVID-19.

While St John understands that patients often like to have a support person accompany them on the ambulance journey, it is necessary to limit the number of people in emergency departments during the current COVID-19 pandemic response.

Ambulance officers across the country have been directed to only transport family members with patients in exceptional circumstances. This is to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to keep patient families and health workers safe.

There will be some exceptions on compassionate grounds, for example when a patient is gravely ill or when a child is being transported, however in these cases we will be asking that only one family member travels with the patient.

We understand that this initiative may be distressing for patients and families in an already stressful situation but appreciate the public’s help with keeping everyone safe.

Please respect our ambulance officers and treat them with kindness should you not be permitted to travel in the ambulance with a loved one. Ambulance officers are caring, non-judgemental professionals but must follow best clinical standards in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19.

Is there any impact on hospital Patient Transfer Services?

St John continues to operate its Patient Transfer Services. Our drivers are following Ministry of Health guidelines to keep patients and themselves safe. This includes increased hygiene and cleaning in our vehicles such as wiping of seats, door handles and steering wheel.

Is my St John First Aid course still running?

St John has suspended its First Aid courses in New Zealand from Tuesday, 24 March, in light of the country's COVID-19 alert status being advanced to level three and rising.

Online alternatives are now available, including the Online First Aid Refresher course and St John Online First Aid course which can be upgraded to a Level 1 or Level 2 course when in-class courses resume.  

We are working on developing more online options, including the Mental Health First Aid course.

All customers who have pre-booked courses will be contacted by email and will be given the opportunity to switch to an alternative online course at no charge. If there is no alternative, customers can move their booking to a later date when courses resume.

To register for a course, customers can follow the existing processes for booking First Aid courses online. Customers will receive a URL for their course once they have booked and paid.

St John is investigating the possibility of extending the period of time before you need to complete your training to two years, six months, to ease the pressure of updating your certification over the next couple of months.

Please note, as per our standard terms and conditions, there are no refunds for First Aid courses, however, under certain circumstances, an exception can be made. 

Is my St John Medical Alarm affected?

Our Medical Alarms teams are well equipped to continue visiting clients with medical alarms. We are putting several safety measures into place including:  

  • Equipment testing and troubleshooting will take place over the telephone rather than in person 

  • If a visit to someone’s home is required, we will manage all requirements without entering the property, unless necessary, to keep our customers safe. Our team will provide you with instructions before our representative arrives at your property.  
  • Extra vigilance with clients who feel unwell and referring them to take appropriate action, e.g. call Healthline, GP, family member etc.

  • We continue to review our processes daily  

What about St John services at Events?

Customer enquiries remain open for our Event Health Services throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, however, due to mass gatherings being cancelled whilst the country is at alert level 3 or 4, St John will not be providing event medical cover until the alert level reduces to 2.

Due to the uncertainty on when the alert will reduce to level 2, we are accepting bookings from Friday 24 April 2020, with no cancellation fees imposed on existing or new bookings. 

Can I still use St John Health Shuttles?

Our Health Shuttles have been suspended for three months from 21 March 2020. This is a regrettable position to have to be in, but the health, safety and wellbeing of our volunteers and our clients is paramount. We are currently developing a plan for a temporary Health Shuttle service that will look to support our most vulnerable communities through this challenging time and will be sharing the detail of this as soon as it’s available.

Is St John still delivering its Community Care services?

With the ever-evolving situation with the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to carefully monitor advice provided by the Ministry of Health and in line with their advice, we have taken the decision to suspend our Community Care Services for a period of two months from 18 March, 2020.

The impacted services are:

  • Friends of the Emergency Departments (FEDs)
  • Hospital Friends
  • Community Carers
  • Therapy Pets

While we wish we did not have to take this decision, we know it is the right thing to do to protect both our people and the communities we operate in. It is important for us to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all our people, including our paid staff and our huge team of amazing volunteers.

We will review the suspension of these services in two months and continue to keep you informed about any changes as they happen.

Our Caring Caller service will continue to operate, and we are working on increasing our reach following the suspension of other services. There will be opportunities for our volunteers to consider becoming part of the Caring Caller programme that we hope to expand to reach more people in need.

Is the St John Youth programme still running?

Following lengthy consideration and discussion, and in keeping with the Ministry of Health advice on public events and mass gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 National Youth Festival due to be held in Wellington from 17 – 19 April. The decision has not been taken lightly, and we recognise the impact this will have on all our squad members, managers, supporters and the wider St John Youth whanau. The move is to further minimise the risk to our leaders, youth members and their families, from the threat of COVID-19.

In addition, we have cancelled all St John Youth activities and events. This includes all regional and district level camps, competitions, training and all division nights.

The National Youth Leadership Team is in discussion about how some of our badge work and programme training can be shifted online, and it is looking to implement nightly presentations on Facebook live and other platforms to keep our Youth and their families informed.

The team is also developing a plan to consider what events could be rescheduled later this year alongside events that could be cancelled altogether.

Will St John still hold its Heart of Gold Annual Appeal in April?

After extensive consideration, including taking into account the country’s move to Alert Level 4 and the growing spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, it’s been decided that we will postpone all Annual Appeal activities due to commence Sunday 29 March.

Of course fundraising remains vitally important to us, as does giving New Zealanders the opportunity to support the great work of our frontline. But given the unsettled time we are all facing individually, within our families, and our communities, we do not feel that this moment is the right time to continue with this. 

We are grateful for all the goodwill that our Annual Appeal attracts and appreciate your continued support.