30 Jun 2014

St John predicts big rise in callouts

8:47 am on 30 June 2014

St John is having to increase staff and re-arrange the distribution of ambulances to cover what is expected to be the busiest next two months in its history.

The charitable organisation has used forecasting technology to predict it will receive 35,000 callouts in July and just under that number in August.

Paramedics Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa at work in Tauranga.

Paramedics Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa at work in Tauranga. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

The below graph shows the monthly number of EAS (emergency ambulance service) incidents St John received.

  • The dots are the actual number of incidents for that month.
  • The green line is the cyclic trended average.
  • The red lines are the upper and lower control limits which are an approximation of 3 standard deviations.
  • The dotted lines are the projected average and the control limits, based on the cyclic trend since January 2009.
  • The green dots are a run of 8 or more points below the average, the red dots are a run of 8 or more points above the average.
National projected incident numbers.

National projected incident numbers. Graphic: ST JOHN

In the Bay of Plenty region the increase will mean an average of 90 calls a day, and it could go up as high as 95 calls a day.

Bay of Plenty/East Cape District Operations Manager Jeremy Gooders said the increase in the workload in urban Bay of Plenty areas has usually been at about 4 percent, but in the past twelve months it has been 8.6 percent.

He said the growth in population put a bigger demand on their service.

Mr Gooders said they were looking are increasing the number of paid and volunteer staff and they had brought a new ambulance into the area to help with calls like Betty's.

He said the ambulance will be used between 10am and 3pm during July and August because it was the busiest time.

Paramedics Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa.

Lisa Charman and Tony Hohepa. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

Paramedics, Tony Hohepa and Lisa Charman, crew an ambulance in Tauranga.

Their callouts usually last about an hour. On Thursday last week they were called to see an 85-year-old woman called Betty, who was transported to hospital with an infection which left her feeling "clapped out".

Betty said she had been feeling dreadful for a few days and her son told her to call an ambulance. She thought she was alright, but her condition worsened and she decided to call. Betty was admitted to hospital and given antibiotics and fluids.

Tony Hohepa at work in the ambulance.

Tony Hohepa at work in the ambulance. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

St John put the increase in calls down to an increasing and ageing population, winter colds and flus, and contact sports.

St John will also be continuing a trial in Auckland and Christchurch which will see some 111 callers assessed by medical staff over the phone and referred to GPs if an ambulance is not needed.

Jeremy Gooders said 30 percent of their calls were less acute and the patients could be seen elsewhere.