News | 9 March 2023
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Police and paramedics team up for weekend patrols

Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA) paramedics are deploying with Police on Friday and Saturday nights to the city’s entertainment precinct.

Wellington Free Ambulance and Police join forces in Courtenay Place
Wellington Free Ambulance and Police join forces in Courtenay Place

Through combined public safety patrols, the emergency services are working to ensure the safety and care of people enjoying a night out in town. 

The initiative is supported by Wellington City Council (WCC) as part of the Pōneke Promise - a coordinated community-driven partnership to make central Wellington safe, vibrant, and welcoming.

The area around Courtenay Place has been a hot spot location for alcohol related harm. This often materialises into disorder events and harm to people or property.

Inspector Dean Silvester says the continued partnership between Police and WFA paramedics on weekends is beneficial for the agencies involved and for members of the public.

The availability, medical expertise and professionalism of paramedics is making a noticeable difference.

“The presence of paramedics and the care they provide often de-escalates volatile situations. They can deal with low level injuries or medical issues right there and then.

“This means fewer ambulance call outs to Courtenay Place or people presenting to the Emergency Department for minor injuries. It also frees up Police resources to focus on our role of keeping the community safe and taking enforcement action,” says Inspector Silvester.

The strength and benefits of this deployment model can be seen every weekend. 

The co-deployment model has its genesis in a joint trial conducted by Police and WFA embedding tactical paramedics within specialist police workgroups. 

The trial highlighted an opportunity to for paramedics to work alongside Wellington Police to provide medical coverage in the central city during periods of high demand. The most common presentation being assaults related to alcohol.

“Because of the strong relationship Police has with Council, we were able to bring this initiative to the table. It formally brings Wellington Free Ambulance into the Pōneke Promise as a service provider making a valuable contribution to the vision of a safe and thriving central city. 

“The collaboration is the three agencies working together to deliver the service that our community expect and deserve,” says Inspector Silvester.

Acting Head of Ambulance Francis Denton says the agency values this partnership and is pleased to be involved because of the evident benefits.

“Wellington Free Ambulance is always committed to the best possible outcomes for our patients and value the partnerships we have with our colleagues in Police to keep all our communities safe,” says Francis.

And as a charity which relies on external funding to support their mahi, WFA is grateful for the funding from WCC which is helping them to deliver services for this initiative.

The combined Police and WFA public safety patrols will run for 12-months with a six-month evaluation phase.

“I am proud to say that this exemplifies the strength of our partnerships in the Pōneke Promise. By collaborating with the Police and now also Wellington Free Ambulance in responding to safety concerns, we are making real progress towards reducing harm in the central city and creating a safe and vibrant experience for all," says Wellington City Council Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow.  

Launched in May 2021, the Pōneke Promise is a community driven initiative to keep Wellington City Safe. The programme was established in response to the community's concerns around safety in the central city.