St John SafeZone re­turns to city for party sea­son

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

A ser­vice for rev­ellers need­ing time out or med­i­cal help in the cen­tral city is back for sum­mer.

The SafeZone is some­where party-go­ers can go to if they have overindulged in al­co­hol or drugs, are in­jured, or are con­cerned about their safety.

It’s a joint ini­tia­tive of the Auck­land Coun­cil, St John, ACC and the Red Frogs youth vol­un­teers.

Am­bu­lance call­outs tend to peak from mid-De­cem­ber to early Jan­uary in cen­tral Auck­land when crews re­spond to around 50 to 60 in­ci­dents be­tween mid­night and 6am, com­pared to an av­er­age of 29 in­ci­dents out­side the peak pe­riod.

The SafeZone con­cept was tri­alled in March. More than 600 peo­ple vis­ited it and 88 peo­ple were treated by St John staff dur­ing the four weeks.

Nearly all of those who were treated were drunk.

St John Auck­land Dis­trict op­er­a­tions man­ager Derek Lieft­ing says the SafeZone frees up re­sources.

Pa­tients can be treated on the spot and col­lected by fam­ily or friends rather than taken to hos­pi­tal.

‘‘This is a real ad­van­tage be­cause it al­lows am­bu­lances and crews to be avail­able for more crit­i­cal jobs, like a car­diac ar­rest,’’ Mr Lieft­ing says.

‘‘It also pre­vents the vul­ner­a­ble per­son be­com­ing a po­ten­tial vic­tim of vi­o­lence and in need of more se­ri­ous med­i­cal at­ten­tion.’’

St John has been gifted a six-berth mo­bile home as a base for SafeZone staff and vol­un­teers and to pro­vide some­where to treat pa­tients.

Cen­tre piece: The SafeZone truck will be on Queens Wharf dur­ing De­cem­ber and Jan­uary to help those who have over in­dulged.

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