16 Jan 2014

Ambulance robbed of drugs

10:31 pm on 16 January 2014

The Ambulance Association says the robbery of an ambulance of drugs after being flagged down for a fake emergency may have been avoided if the vehicle had been double-crewed.

The single ambulance officer was on their way to a real callout in Hamilton early on Thursday morning and waved down by someone next to a man lying on the ground on Cameron Road.

As she went to help, two more men appeared and joined the group. The officer was manoeuvred back into the ambulance and the men searched the vehicle for drugs.

Police say while the men scoured the ambulance, the officer alerted the St John operations room and then managed to escape.

Association chairperson Mark Quin says single-crewed ambulances are particularly vulnerable, and an extra person may have made the difference.

Mr Quin said the level of single-crewing is the same, if not worse, than a decade ago. He said officers' workloads are increasing and funding remains a problem.

St John ambulance operations director Michael Brooke says although assaults on staff are not uncommon, attacks in order to steal drugs are rare.

"Staff are assaulted whether that be verbally or pushed. We do see it from time to time, but not specifically for drugs. Part of me almost hopes it was opportunistic, because the thought that someone would actually target an ambulance I find just shocking."

Police said the men showed no respect for the service ambulance officers provide to the community. The vehicle will be forensically examined.