St John Ambulance prepares for what could be its busiest New Year's Eve


As the country prepares to celebrate – or perhaps commiserate – the year that was 2021, St John is reminding the public to look after each other on the busiest night for the emergency ambulance service.

The highest demand for the emergency ambulance service is typically New Year’s Eve between 10pm and 2am when calls into the 111 ambulance communications centres triple – with a third being alcohol related.

Dan Ohs, St John Deputy Chief Executive – Ambulance Operations, says with the added pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has been one of the busiest and most challenging years for the emergency ambulance service and St John is expecting this New Year’s Eve to be no different.

“During the peak of New Year’s Eve last year, between 10pm Thursday 31 December to 3am Friday 01 January, our frontline ambulance teams attended 418 call-outs.

“That’s 66 percent more incidents (252) compared with the busiest period in winter this year, and 119 percent (191 incidents) more than the busiest period in winter last year.”

Mr Ohs says the most common calls are for unconscious people, falls, traumatic injuries and car crashes.

“St John Ambulance always prepares for an increase in demand during the holiday period, but we’d like to remind everyone that the most life-threatening incidents will always be prioritised.

“This means that if your condition isn’t time critical, there may be a delay in responding,” he says.

Mr Ohs says while this New Year’s Eve is the first time in many months a lot of us will be able to come together and celebrate with friends and whānau, it’s important people do so responsibly and safely.

“For those celebrating or hosting New Year’s Eve, make sure there’s plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks, including water, and always have a sober driver. Look out for one another and ensure everyone has a safe way to get home.

“If you find you do need our help – please be kind and respectful to our ambulance staff. We see assaults against our people increase over the festive season which is never tolerated.

“Our emergency call handlers and paramedics are caring professionals but if they’re being abused, they can’t do their job.”

Finally, as COVID-19 continues to spread across Aotearoa, we can’t get complacent, Mr Ohs says.

“It’s important we all continue to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines on keeping safe, including practicing good hygiene, physical distancing, wearing a face mask and scanning into public places.

“St John wishes everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year.”


About St John
As the emergency services arm of the health sector, St John ambulances serve 90% of New Zealanders across 97% of the country.

Over the last year, St John answered more than 580,000 emergency calls. St John ambulances travelled over 18 million kilometres and ambulance officers treated and/or transported more than 488,000 patients.

St John has more than 4,000 paid and volunteer ambulance officers and more than 1,100 ambulances and operational vehicles throughout the country, responding to emergencies 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Emergency ambulance services provided by St John are funded approximately 80 percent through contracts with the Ministry of Health and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), with the balance made up from ambulance part-charges, third-party contracts, and fundraising. Ambulance part-charges and fundraising contribute towards purchasing and equipping ambulances, clinical equipment and building and maintaining ambulance stations.

To meet the broader health needs of New Zealanders, St John also works to tackle underlying issues affecting wellbeing, build resilience, and create connections for stronger communities through its range of free community health programmes and innovative, products and services, which help people live independent lives and feel safer at home or work.

Amy Milne

St John Integrated Communications Advisor

M 0275027523



St John media team

P 0800 756 334 


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