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A new, state-of-art ambulance station

Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] has announced a $7 million state-of-the-art ambulance station for Wairarapa.

The planned facility, unveiled at an event on Monday, will be built on the corner of Queen St and Russell St in Masterton and will be the permanent base for the more than 30 emergency response crew, patient transfer officers, and rescue squad members who serve Wairarapa.

Fundraising and communications manager Claire Carruthers said the station would be funded by WFA, a Crown contribution and community fundraising.

“This is an exciting and vital project for Wairarapa,” she said.

“We’re aiming to raise $3 million from the community. This is the first time we can guarantee that money donated in Wairarapa will stay in Wairarapa. It will be built by the community, for the community.”

Carruthers said WFA planned to break ground on the project in mid-2023 and have the station operational by April 2024.

WFA has operated in Wairarapa since 2012 and currently runs out of a temporary facility in the former cosmopolitan club on Chapel St, which chief executive Dave Robinson said is not fit for purpose.

“These paramedics are turning out daily for us, literally saving lives. We need to make sure they have the right equipment to do their job,” Robinson said.

“This station will meet the growing lifesaving needs of the entire Wairarapa community.”

Robinson said the new station would include more beds, break-out rooms, an upgraded kitchen, outdoor space, and parking for nine ambulances and emergency vehicles.

WFA board chair Dame Kerry Prendergast said the organisation has had “significant problems finding a permanent site”, with the search taking more than three years, but building a new station with “proper facilities” is a necessity for “a modern ambulance service”.

The building will be built to IL4 standards, meaning it will be able to withstand more severe earthquakes than ordinary commercial premises.

Because it will be the first WFA station built to this standard, the Masterton station will act as the ambulance headquarters for all of the Wellington Region in the event of a natural disaster.

Wairarapa-based paramedic Jonathan Rees, who has been on the job for 20 years, said the new station is “a big deal”.

“Ambulance services in New Zealand have made do with houses and other stations that aren’t purpose-built for our work. Our team cares about the community, and this station will bring our work to a new level.

“It’s going to be so good culturally for our team to have a permanent location. It’s going to be a home for us,” Rees said.

WFA responded to 6836 calls last year and transferred an additional 1867 patients to appointments.

Donate at https://www.buildwairarapastation.org.nz/

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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