Gerard Campbell |

St John Ambulance is experiencing extremely high demand for ambulance services across the country with workload over the last week being the highest St John has ever seen.

While high demand over winter is not unusual, the current call volumes are well above what we would expect during this period due in part to the number of patients with viral respiratory illness, but also a general increase in other incidents. Last week we received 1,300 more 111 calls (11% increase) and 700 more ambulance responses (7% increase) than expected for this time of year.

The increase in demand is impacting both our 111 communications centres and our ability to respond emergency ambulances. Callers to our 111 communications  centres may experience a delay before their call is answered, and we may not be able to send an ambulance immediately – so we ask the public to only call 111 for genuine emergencies.  

Yesterday afternoon (14 July), St John set up an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate ambulance resources at a national level, ensuring resources are moved to where the need is the highest and working with our health partners to ensure that we can effectively manage demand on the ambulance service and respond immediately to critical patients.  We have already increased ambulance resourcing in our main centres and are supporting our communications centres with additional capacity.

If people are feeling unwell, or need health advice, we are asking for them to call their regular health provider or Healthline and consider alternate methods of transport to medical facilities for non-urgent conditions. If it is an emergency, people should continue to dial 111 for an ambulance, being mindful that if their condition is not immediately life threatening, there may be a significant delay in responding an ambulance.

We would also like to remind people of the importance of self-care over winter, ensuring they take regular medications, and keep on top of illness before it exacerbates.



Please attribute to Dan Ohs, St John Deputy Chief Executive – Ambulance Operations


Gerard Campbell

St John Communications Advisor

M 0275672083 | E gerard.campbell@stjohn.org.nz

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