Hato Hone St John and ASB launch Australasia’s first EV emergency ambulance

Amy Milne |

Hato Hone St John's new electric emergency ambulance driving on a road past a green tree in New Zealand

Hato Hone St John (HHSJ) is on a mission to reduce emissions and find sustainable ways to deliver care to communities, with the launch of Australasia’s first electric emergency ambulance trial, supported by long-standing partner ASB.

After two years’ planning, designing, and assembly, the custom-built emergency ambulance was gifted to HHSJ by ASB at a special blessing ceremony in Ngāruawāhia last week and will be based in Hamilton for a trial to understand its full range and reliability.

At the blessing, Cameron Brill, Hato Hone St John Deputy Chief Executive Corporate Operations, said that with a fleet of almost 1400 vehicles (around half being ambulances), reducing vehicle emissions were where the organisation could have the biggest impact.

“It’s the biggest focus for us in how we can provide an efficient world-class health service to our communities but in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way,” Mr Brill said.

He acknowledged the huge financial contribution of ASB in enabling HHSJ to build and test the feasibility and viability of an electric ambulance for the emergency ambulance service.

“In this fiscal environment investment in sustainable technologies becomes even more challenging. We would not be here today had it not been for ASB stepping forward to support this project,” Mr Brill said.

Two men and one woman stand proudly in front of Hato Hone St John's new electric emergency ambulance.

ASB Head of Sustainability, Carrie Gage, said ASB was proud to be a long-standing partner of Hato Hone St John, and to support them on this important initiative.

“Building a sustainable future for all New Zealanders is a core focus for us. We see potential for this project to have a rippling effect through other industries on the same path and are extremely excited to be able to pave the way for future work in this space,” Ms Gage said.

Colin Tan, Head of Service and Sustainability, said that ASB has been part of the process since 2022, supporting the idea and providing funding to build the vehicle from inception to realisation.

“We believe we are the first emergency service in Australasia to trial the feasibility of an electric emergency ambulance.”

Dr Tan said the organisation could not have done this without the help of their supporters.

“ASB has been pivotal in us being able to build and trial the first EV (Electric Vehicle) emergency ambulance in Aotearoa New Zealand, but we are also especially grateful to Siemens and YHI for their generous donation of EV chargers, which have been installed at our Hamilton Station. A big thank you to everyone who has made this project possible.”

Dr Tan said that while Hato Hone St John is very much in its infancy of EV exploration, our mahi towards a more sustainable fleet has been in motion since 2021 with our initial focus on moving non-emergency vehicles towards hybrid and electric models.

“We know that transitioning non-emergency vehicles makes sense and the trial will tell us whether it is also viable and affordable for our emergency vehicles.

“Not only are we keen to analyse the cost benefits of fuel savings, as well as carbon emissions reductions – we will also be closely analysing the clinical experience for our people and our patients.”

Bria Walker, National Youth Cadet of the Year, said during her speech at the ceremony that it was “truly awe-inspiring” that Hato Hone St John was actively taking steps towards becoming more environmentally sustainable.

“While pioneering the very first electric ambulance in Australasia may seem like a scary step for many, it fills me and our young people with confidence and satisfaction seeing Hato Hone St John constantly working to fulfill our responsibility as tiaki, looking after the environment for our future generations”, Bria said.

“Seeing Hato Hone St John being supported by and working with ASB to continue the journey of making this positive change makes me incredibly proud to be a kiwi, and I feel honored to be a part of such an environmentally focused organisation that is committed to making another positive impact, changing our lives for the better.”




More about the first EV emergency ambulance

  • The Ford-Transit EV emergency ambulance was built in Hamilton by Action Manufacturing.
  • It will be based at Hamilton Ambulance Station (Seddon Road) where two chargers, donated by YHI and Siemens, had been installed and will begin on 12-hour day shifts.
  • While HHSJ is confident the vehicle’s range of around 250km would manage the average 180km distance ambulances typically covered in a shift, a back-up vehicle would always be available.
  • HHSJ would run a year-long trial capturing data on the vehicle’s range and performance, as well as ambulance officers’ clinical experience on shift.
  • The EV emergency is very responsive and goes from 0km to 100km in around nine seconds.
  • Ambulance officers must undergo driver training prior to working shifts on the EV emergency ambulance.


About Hato Hone St John

  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area.
  • Hato Hone St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, Hato Hone St John provides a substantial number of community health programmes and initiatives which help build community resilience. They include Health Shuttles, Caring Caller, Friends of the Emergency Department, St John Youth, St John in Schools, and Therapy Pets.
  • Hato Hone St John also delivers event health services, medical alarm services, first aid training and operates retail stores across the country.


About ASB partnership and support

  • ASB has been a Major Sponsor of Hato Hone St John for almost 16 years, officially partnering in 2008.
  • United by our commitment to creating safe, caring communities, together we have achieved great outcomes for Aotearoa. Highlights include:
    • Thirteen ambulances and operational vehicles donated by ASB and its customers.
    • Defibrillators in all ASB branches and over 40 AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) donated to communities in need.
    • ASB St John in Schools programme has taught lifesaving first aid skills to over one million tamariki.
    • ASB staff volunteer to support community programmes such as St John Caring Caller.
  • Now Hato Hone St John and ASB are working together on projects that enable the broader wellbeing of our communities, such as this one.


For further information and images, contact:

Hato Hone St John media team

PH: 0800 756 334

E: media@stjohn.org.nz

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