A dual purpose fire and medical response vehicle is about to start a year of trials to test the concept.
The prototype vehicle (FMV) has been developed by the Fire Service and St John and is designed for use in rural and remote communities where brigades provide a medical first response service.
After being put through its paces at the Fire Service National Training Centre in Rotorua this week, the vehicle will be trialled by the Diamond Harbour Volunteer Fire Brigade in Canterbury for the next four months.
"The fire medical vehicle is not an ambulance," Fire Service national commander Paul Baxter says. "It will allow firefighters to get patients up off the ground and into a safer, more clinical environment while early treatment is being provided until an ambulance arrives."
The vehicle can also provide "good firefighting capability" and carry the usual gear needed for rescues and other emergencies.
After Diamond Harbour, the FMV will be transferred to nearby Little River Brigade before going to the North Island in April for the Tolaga Bay Brigade near Gisborne. The FMV will replace existing appliances during the trial.
Thirty seven fire provide the first medical response within their communities and are despatched to a wide variety of medical emergencies.
"This initiative is a good example of emergency services working together to further benefit New Zealand communities and patient outcomes," St John operations director Michael Brooke says.
"The aim is to improve the emergency medical response in those rural and remote communities where the Fire Service has a resource that is closer than the nearest ambulance station."