Station manager Lloyd Barnett (left) and area manager Simon Barnett say Waiheke is a priority area for double-crewing.

Waiheke will be one of the first places to benefit from Government moves to end single crewing of ambulance services, with St John doubling the number of full-time staff on the island.

The charity has begun recruiting for four new staff and hopes they will be in place before the busy summer period.

In May, the Government voted increased funding to end single crewing over the next four years.

Waiheke was identified as a priority site due to its relatively high number of single-crewed call-outs and the challenges of operating on an island.

St John Waiheke station manager Lloyd ‘Barney’ Barnett says the move will mean there will always be two staff on duty. “We’ll have two at a time which is twice what we have now.”

St John territory manager Simon Barnett says having more staff available on the island will ensure patients get the best available care when they need it. The move will also improve the safety of dedicated ambulance staff.

Volunteers will still play a critical role on the island, working alongside existing and new staff to manage peaks in demand.

“An additional benefit of adding new full-time staff to Waiheke is that we can focus on attracting and supporting more volunteers,” Simon Barnett says.

With extra staffing and volunteer support, the service will be able to have a back-up crew in reserve when an ambulance is called out.

It will also improve cover when staff accompany patients transferred by ferry to Auckland.

On several recent occasions, the Westpac Auckland Rescue Helicopter has been unable to land on the island due to high winds.

The charity still needs to fund 25 percent of its costs through donations.

Lloyd Barnett says people interested in volunteering will receive full training and might only be needed for a couple of shifts a month. Those interested in volunteering may email: • Geoff Cumming

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