In the last year, ambulance officers have responded to more people suffering from temperature-related ailments, amid increasingly extreme weather events.
Data from Hato Hone St John shows frontline ambulance staff responded to 437,960 incidents across the motu last year — a 4.2% increase on the year before.
Deputy chief executive of ambulance operations Dan Ohs said there had been a 22.5% rise in the number of calls for heat or cold exposure incidents.
Many of those were related to flooding in the North Island after Cyclone Gabrielle, with recent call-outs related to rising temperatures.
“We’ve been seeing more people calling us because they are not able to cope with the heat and that could be as simple as an elderly person in a very hot environment such as a church or a community centre without good ventilation who hasn’t had good consumption of water.
“We are also seeing people out in the environment who simply haven’t factored in what they need to stay cool — wearing a hat, staying in the shade, not exercising in the peak of the day and taking on water are all really simple things that we can do to stay safe and make sure people don’t need an ambulance.”
The flooding in Auckland and Cyclone Gabrielle also meant an increase in the number of people rescued by emergency services, with hypothermia a secondary factor for many exposed to water for a long period of time.
Other water-related incidents also remained a concern for ambulance staff who responded to 482 drowning, near drowning, and diving incidents last year, which was 11.1% than in 2022.
Winter ailments and Covid-19 also contributed to a higher workload over the colder months, with August being the busiest month for emergency call handlers and dispatchers who managed 60,822 calls for help. It was closely followed by December, with 60,488 111 calls recorded.
There was a 30.4% upsurge in industrial/machinery incidents and a 15.7% increase in incidents involving hazardous materials such as carbon monoxide.
The busiest locations for ambulance responses were Christchurch, Auckland, Manawatū, Hamilton, and the Western Bay of Plenty.