Katikati ’2DRESQ’

Some of the Katikati ambulance team with their new ambulance, donated by the Wright Family Foundation. Photo: Bruce Barnard

The Wright Family Foundation has come “2DRESQ” of St John Katikati after donating a new ambulance to the area.

The ambulance will be on the roads, servicing Katikati and the surrounding community, after it is dedicated on Friday.

The Wright Family Foundation has funded the full $216,000 cost of the ambulance, and has also supplied a personalised plate for it: “2DRESQ” (to the rescue).

The ambulance is called “Benny”, after Hibiscus Coast boy Benny McSweeney whose life was saved by St John after he fell into a freezing pond when he was 20 months-old at Auckland Domain. Benny is now a happy and healthy 12-year-old.

Wright Family Foundation CEO Chloe Wright, who lives in Omokoroa, was inspired to donate an ambulance after reading Benny’s story in a letter from St John.

“I see Benny as everyone’s child,” says Chloe. “We are all vulnerable - everyone at some time has a connection to someone who needs an ambulance, and we are so fortunate to have this service available to us.

“St John does an incredible job and we are so grateful for their service, saving the lives of people just like Benny every day.”

Benny’s mother, Lydia McSweeney, says the family is forever grateful to St John for saving Benny’s life, and is honoured to have an ambulance named after their son.

St John territory manager Ross Clarke says the ambulance has an improved interior design based on feedback from ambulance officers, allowing staff to remain seated while treating patients. 

The ambulance comes with a PowerLoad Stryker Stretcher, making lifting and transporting patients easier and improving safety for patients and ambulance officers alike.

“Donations like this are essential to St John meeting the growing demand on ambulance services as we constantly strive to improve the quality and equity of our services,” says Ross.

“As a charity, St John needs support from the community, and this generous donation from the Wright Family Foundation means both Katikati and the surrounding communities will have the best possible care available to them.”

As an Omokoroa resident, Chloe is concerned about the road between Tauranga and Katikati, backing calls for it to be widened to four lanes and have a median barrier installed to curb its mounting death toll. In the last eight years, 24 people have died on this road.

“St John is quite literally the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff,” says Chloe, “and unfortunately we need them even more due to the state of this road.

“Every time I see or hear an ambulance, I call all my family members who live in the area to make sure they are okay.

“St John does a wonderful job and we believe the service should be fully funded by the government.”

The Wright Family Foundation is a not-for-profit, registered charitable trust that is dedicated to making a positive difference by ‘growing the good’ in New Zealand communities by supporting education and health initiatives.