Jeff Burkett of Rural Contractors, left, with Nigel Watson, area manager of Wellington Free Ambulance. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

A donation of precisely $33,545.70 from Rural Contractors NZ to Wellington Free Ambulance will contribute towards the service’s People’s Ambulance initiative which aims to combine donations towards the common cause.

The money was raised through an auction at the Rural Contractors conference in Masterton this year.

Wellington Free’s Wairarapa regional manager Nigel Watson said the money would be well spent.

“We have 20 ambulances — each one costs around $250,000 and we aim to buy three new vehicles each year,” he said.

“We’re a free service, so that makes it extra challenging. We need to raise $4 million in fundraising each year.”

As well as public donations, the service receives funding from the Health Ministry, the Accident Compensation Corporation, and the Wairarapa region’s three district councils.

Among key equipment carried on each ambulance and rapid response vehicle is a Lifepak defibrillator which can not only be used to start a patient’s heart but can also take a 360 degree image of the heart and send it electronically to a cardiologist for assessment.

The machines cost around $50,000 and are replaced every three years.