St John invests $15m in ‘heart’ of Christchurch

Christchurch Central Electorate
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A new $15 million ambulance hub for St John will open in central Christchurch within a year, the charity has announced.

St John plans to build a new ‘‘make ready hub and logistics facility’’ on its existing St Asaph St site, alongside its training facility, with construction work expected to start later this year.

St John Christchurch chairman Graham Gillespie said it would be the ‘‘biggest building project St John has ever undertaken’’.

The new facility would be located between St Asaph, Durham and Winchcombe streets, and would cater for more than 65 staff and 23 ambulances.

South Island general manager David Thomas said paramedics would arrive at the hub at the start of their shifts before ‘‘deploying out to spokes’’, or suburban stations, across the city.

The exact locations of the suburban stations were yet to be confirmed, but would allow St John to adapt to population changes in the city following the region’s earthquakes, he said.

They would be located in Hornby, Linwood, Ilam, Burwood, St Albans and Addington. An existing station in St Martins would be kept, but other stations around Christchurch would be replaced by the new stations over the next three years.

Thomas said St John attended 61,829 incidents in Christchurch during the last year, and the new facility would give paramedics more time with patients. Having a base in the central city meant shorter distances for paramedics to travel to have their vehicles cleaned or restocked after dropping patients off at Christchurch Hospital.

Paramedics would no longer have to clean their own vehicles either, with St John planning to hire new paid and volunteer staff as ‘‘fleet auxilliary officers’’.

‘‘This will be the first in a series of new hubs to be developed in New Zealand. The Christchurch earthquakes obviously allowed us to be the first cab off the rank to develop this new model,’’ Thomas said.

St John spent about six months planning the project, and seven alternative sites were considered before the St Asaph St location was chosen.

The decision followed changes to the city’s proposed southern frame and St John’s purchase of two properties on Durham St.

‘‘We decided to reinvest in the central city. We made a strategic decision to locate all our services at the heart of the city.’’

The hub would cost about $15m in total, including refurbishment of the existing training facility on St Asaph St, land, and construction of the new ambulance station.

St John would use ‘‘all and more’’ of its post-earthquake insurance proceeds on the new central city facility and would not receive any funding from the Government, meaning it still needed to raise about $2m from the public.

Donations can be made online at