Ambulance Projects

The Rotary Club of Petone has been central to purchasing, refurbishing and equipping soon-to-be-retired ambulances before shipping them off to remote Pacific Islands for further service.

Wellington Free Ambulance plays an absolutely vital role. It sends very experienced paramedics in advance of the ambulance's arrival, to provide First Aid training and to train ambulance staff how to use the on-board equipment. 

Many other Rotary Clubs have also assisted in terms of collecting, providing toys and books which have gone along for the ride. 

Gizo - Solomon Islands

The second ambulance to be sent overseas, it was refitted and shipped to the Solomons in July 2013. The story featured on Breakfast TV here in New Zealand and was broadcast across the Pacific on Radio Australia (including FM Radio in Honiara.)

Several visits to Gizo have taken place to provide training and to assess the status of the Ambulance. On the first visit, Petone Rotarian and Wellington Free Ambulance Emergency Medical Technician, Mike Bolton along with Vanessa Simpson, an Extensive Care Paramedic (also from WFA) had the task of training the locals in the use of the equipment as well as providing First Aid training - they had a very busy schedule. Vanessa's story can be read here. 

Vanessa returned to Gizo in 2014 with Ben Wylie-Cheer taking medical supplies, antibiotics, pain relief medication, syringes, lancets, intravenous fluids, bandages, gauze and plasters and a defibrilator. They provided refresher training to nurses, security guards and a number of key people from outlying islands. They also provided training in the use of the new defibrilator .

Ben reported that the Ambulance is in pristine condition - immaculate inside and out. He also remarked that it is better equipped than the hospital - the defibrilator is the only one on the island. Ben and Vanessa made several recommendations regarding future efforts and options for the club - we will obviously be focusing on sustainability.

We also owe a huge vote of thanks to the New Zealand Navy, as they transported the ambulance to the Solomons aboard HMNZS Canterbury when she left in July to take part in Exercise Pacific Partnership 2013. 

Exercise Pacific Partnership 2013 is a US Navy-led annual multinational humanitarian relief exercise which conducts medical, dental and engineering civic aid projects in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand has been a participant for a number of years and the exercise is conducted as a partnership with nations from across the Pacific.  

Read more about the exercise which is being conducted in the host nations of Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Marshall Islands.

Taveuni - Fiji

Email received from the Rotary Club of Taveuni Island:

Monday August 6th, 2012

Two weeks ago there was a dreadful car accident on Taveuni. Two young men died and four others were injured. "Our" ambulance played a major part in the treatment and transport of the four survivors. Dr. Mesulame and the administration officer told me the equipment and set up of the ambulance was vital to minimizing pain and damage to the survivors." 


A used Wellington Free Ambulance sent to a remote Fijian island immediately proved its worth, with its trained staff and equipment helping to save the life of a 14-year-old girl seriously injured in a bus crash.

The ambulance was sent to Taveuni Island thanks to an initiative of the Petone Rotary Club. 

The ambulance has had an immediate impact as the up-skilled Taveuni paramedics saved the life of a 14 year old girl after the school bus she was travelling in crashed and she was impaled. In the past they would have extracted her and she would have certainly died. But this time, with the training they received and the medical care the ambulance provides, she survived. This is a great first-time success story for the new paramedics.

In September Fiona Vickers, a Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic for the last 10 years, arrived in Taveuni. Good news gets out fast and 30 people including firefighters, police and prison officers received the benefit of Fiona’s training – they were all extremely grateful and excited.

While Taveuni previously had an ambulance, it was poorly equipped and its staff were not well trained. A lack of spare parts meant it was often out of action when needed.

The idea to send a new ambulance to Taveuni was sparked during a dinner-time conservation in January. Then club president Pam Hanna and fellow Rotarian Mike Bolton –-a Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic - took the lead in finding a suitable vehicle.

With help from Wellington Free Ambulance they were able to get their hands on Ambulance 417. Vehicle 417 started service in 2001 and spent six years responding to 111 calls. It is estimated to have attended to more than 25,000 sick and injured Wellingtonians during its operational life.

Thanks to the generosity of Rotarians throughout the country and local Petone businesses, 417 was given a complete makeover before being shipped to Fiji.

Rotary contacts around the country also made sure the ambulance was filled with surgical equipment from Waikato Hospital and boxes of soft toys donated by Rotary Paraparaumu.