About Us

We are the only emergency ambulance service in greater Wellington and the Wairarapa, and the only ones in the country who are free.

Get Involved

We are the only emergency ambulance service in greater Wellington and the Wairarapa, and the only ones in the country who are free.

What we do

Our people

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Our people are experts at caring

We are here for you when it matters to you, because it matters to us.

Paramedic walking down hallway with stretcher 

Our call takers are the calm voice at the end of the line. They are a critical part of the team, connecting you to the help you need.

Dispatchers make sure we get the right help to the right people, in the best possible time.

Our paramedics know what to do in an emergency and how to get you the help you need. Three plus years of clinical training and continual on-the-job learning means they are equipped and ready to look after you in your time of crisis. More than that, they care about you and your community.

Our Patient Transfer team collect and transport patients from A to B between hospital treatments. They offer reassurance you are in safe hands and you will be looked after in the best possible way.

Volunteer Event Medics are at events, fairs and sports fields most weekends. They do everything from strapping ankles to giving life-saving care until an ambulance arrives.

Our people are here for you.

Our Leadership Team

We are a mix of ambulance service experts and leadership professionals who love our work, our service, and our region.

  • David Robinson, Chief Executive. David became Chief Executive of Wellington Free Ambulance in June 2021. He has more than 20 years’ experience in community, health and public services and has held senior management roles within the New Zealand Army and New Zealand Defence Force. He joins Wellington Free Ambulance as the organisation looks towards 100 years of service in the Greater Wellington and Wairarapa regions. David is married to Benita and has three sons; Thomas, Joseph and Patrick.

  • Sarah Lewis, Executive Director, Corporate Services. Sarah has been at Wellington Free Ambulance since August 2006. Her team keep a sharp eye on finances, property, IT systems and all the things that make an organisation tick. They provide and analyse important data to help us understand our work and are the safe-keepers of our organisational policies.

  • Paul Fake, Executive Director, Quality, Innovation and Improvement. Having a paramedic background keeps Paul close to the reality of our work. Supported by his team, he looks after clinical quality and always has an eye on new or innovative ways of doing things. Paul is all about understanding things from a patient point of view, making sure we are as much about compassion as we are clinical excellence. 

  • Kate Jennings, Executive Director, Clinical Communications Centre and Patient Co-ordination. Kate brings big centre experience from her time in London Ambulance Service and has done a great job of achieving ‘ACE’ accreditation for our Clinical Communications Centre – making us one of just a few communications centres world-wide in this ‘centre of excellence’ club.

  • Claire Carruthers, Director of Fundraising and Communications. Claire joined Wellington Free Ambulance in January 2021. Claire brings a wealth of knowledge in strategic engagement and relationship management. Her passion is creating mutually beneficial philanthropic partnerships that have a direct impact on our communities.  Claire oversees a team of dedicated fundraising and communications professionals as well as our amazing Lloyd Morrison Foundation Heartbeat CPR programme.

  • Kate Worthington, Executive Director, Healthcare Services. Kate looks after all the emergency ambulance service staff and keeps the wheels turning by juggling shift patterns, logistics, managing deployment, and problem solving so we can be here for you - 24/7, 365 days a year. Kate is a practicing Intensive Care Paramedic, working as a clinician for 18 years. She continues to understand the day to day pressures and impacts on her paramedic crews by regularly working on the road and supporting her Field Leadership Team.

  • Chris Wright, Executive Director, People and Culture. Quality training, clear health and safety processes, and having a meaningful staff wellness programme are some of the things that make Wellington Free a great place to work. Sometimes we spend so much time looking after others that we forget to look after ourselves, so Chris is big on getting all of us thinking and talking about our mental wellness every day. 

  • Vanessa Simpson, Executive Director Relationships and Development. Vanessa maintains strong relationships with our external stakeholders, while leading an innovation team who are instrumental in delivering projects using co-design principals. A practicing Extended Care Paramedic, and Board member of Capital and Coast DHB Vanessa brings organisational insight and a patient focus to all service delivery innovations.

  • Geoff Procter, Executive Director Transformational Change – Geoff joined Wellington Free as a volunteer in 2007, before becoming a paramedic and then moving to the role of Executive Director of Healthcare Services. With a great understanding of the intricacies of our operations and how our paramedic crew works on a day to day basis, Geoff ​has been seconded from the Executive Director Healthcare Services role for two years to look at transformational change in the organisation to ensure a more fit for purpose way of delivering our frontline services. Overseeing significant developments and initiatives that will help modernise and future-proof the organisation.

  • Mike McGovern, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology – Mike and his team look after our day-to-day IT needs as well as delivering longer-term projects and strategies. Using information and communications technology he ensures efficient operations through delivering modern, fit for purpose systems across our organisation. Joining the team in 2018, Mike has a wealth of experience in implementing and supporting solutions that utilise technology capabilities whilst ensuring high quality user experiences and outcomes.

Our Medical Directors

Dr Dave O’Byrne and Dr Andy Swain

  • Dr Andy Swain has served as our Medical Director since 2008. He is also Associate Professor in Paramedicine at AUT, Clinical Lecturer in Emergency Medicine at the University of Otago Wellington, and Clinical Director of Wellington Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. He works and teaches in Wellington Free Ambulance and in the Emergency Department of Wellington Hospital and is familiar with ambulance & helicopter environments.
    Andy has been involved with ambulance services since 1985 and he led the development of community paramedicine and flight paramedicine in the Greater Wellington Region.

  • Dr Dave O’Byrne joined Wellington Free Ambulance as Deputy Medical Director in 2019. Outside of his work with Wellington Free, he is an Emergency Physician at Hutt Valley District Health Board. Dave is involved in the oversight and direction of Wellington Free Ambulance, especially around our team of Extended Care Paramedics, and advanced airway management.
    Dave is a member on the national ambulance clinical procedures and guidelines working group, and contributes to the development of national policies that determine the treatment and destination of patients in New Zealand with major trauma.

Our Board

How lucky are we to have a Board made up of highly skilled, dedicated people from a cross section of professions. They meet quarterly to ensure the effective governance of all aspects of our service.

Wellington Free Ambulance Board of Trustees 2021

  • Kerry Prendergast, Chairwoman. Former-Wellington Mayor and Vice President of Local Government New Zealand, Kerry holds an MBA from Victoria University.

    Kerry joined the Wellington Free Board in 2013 and is also Chairwoman, Director, or Trustee of several other organisations including the New Zealand International Arts Festival Trust, Wellington Jazz Music Festival Trust, WorkSafe New Zealand, the Endangered Species Foundation and the Wellington Community Trust.  She was awarded a CNZM in 2011 for her services to local government, and is a distinguished Alumni of Victoria University.

  • Alan Isaac, Deputy Chair. Alan has a long career in accounting, corporate advisory work and a wide range of directorships. During the 80s, his expertise in helping struggling corporates through a process of recovery saw him become involved in many assignments where organisations reshaped themselves in order to to carry on and thrive.

    In recent years, Alan has held high profile directorships for organisations both here and overseas, including President of the International Cricket Council, Chairman of Cricket NZ Inc., Chairman of the Audit Committees for Sport and Recreation NZ, and Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd in the lead up to the rugby world cup.

  • Leanne Southey.  Leanne is a partner in the Wairarapa accountancy firm Southey Sayer Ltd and was honoured with a fellowship to the Chartered Accountants Australia & NZ in 2018. Outside of Southey Sayer, Leanne is Chair of Masterton Trust Lands Trust – a Trust that manages a large property portfolio in Masterton with income returned to the local community in the form of grants to education & the arts, on the Wairarapa DHB board and is Chair of its finance audit & risk committee. She’s also active in a variety of community organisations including Trade Aid and Wairarapa Community Health Trust. She replaced Catherine Rossiter-Stead as our Wairarapa board representative in April 2021.

  • Stephen Ward. Stephen is a partner in the corporate and commercial department of Simpson Grierson. He advises corporations and crown entities on all aspects of corporate governance, statutory compliance, companies law, mergers and acquisitions, overseas investment in New Zealand and related issues.

    Stephen has more than 25 years experience establishing, managing, amalgamating and winding up life and general insurance companies, superannuation schemes, KiwiSaver schemes and other investment vehicles. He is an independent non executive director of ASX-listed Sydney Airport and of Sovereign Assurance Company Limited.

    He is also a trustee of the Life Flight Trust, a New Zealand Rugby Union Appeal Council member and the Independent Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Financial Dispute Resolution Scheme.

  • Ken Greer. Ken has been a GP in Northland for more than 40 years. He is a graduate of Otago Medical School who completed his Clinical training at Wellington hospital and has postgraduate qualifications in Occupational Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

    Alongside practising his profession, he has always been a small business owner/operator and currently owns and runs Northland Village Surgery in partnership with Compass Health. In addition currently he is the Primary Care Clinical Advisor to Capital & Coast District Health Board working in the Systems Integration and Development Unit.

    As the board chairman of Wellington After Hours Medical Services Ltd for 13 years, he guided the development of this company into a sustainable commercial model that local GPs were keen to invest in. The Wellington Accident and Urgent Medical Clinic (WAMC) was transformed into the ACC Accredited facility it is today where General Practices provide out of hours care to Wellington City. He stood down from the WAMC board in 2015.

  • Ross Martin. Ross joined the Board in 2007. He is a chartered accountant and a graduate of the Stanford University Advanced Management programme. For 17 years Ross was at the head of Stagecoach Asia Pacific, where he led the successful expansion from 180 buses in Wellington to over 2350 buses, ten ferries and 7000 employees in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. 

  • Ria Earp. Ria joined the Wellington Free Ambulance Board in August 2019. She is Ngāti Whakaue and Ngāti Pikiao (Te Arawa) and has had extensive experience in leadership, health and social service management and Māori advice.Previously, Ria was Chief Executive of Mary Potter Hospice, holding the position for over 10 years until 2017. She has also been the Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Health, Acting Chief Executive at the Ministry of Youth Affairs, and Manager for Te Ohu Whakatupu - Ministry of Womens’ Affairs.Ria is also chairwoman of Te Rōpū Taki Māori, the Māori advisory group for Hospice New Zealand; chairwoman of Te Rōpū, the Māori advisory group for Health Quality and Safety Commission; and a board member for Hospice New Zealand.

Our Supporters

Let’s not forget about the people who keep us here and uniquely free for anyone needing emergency care.

Members of the public alongside staff from Wellington free ambulance, outside an ambulance and waving at camera

We are a charity that is only partly funded by government; the rest comes from the community. We are lucky to have businesses, schools, groups - both big and small, and people like you supporting us, so that we can keep caring for those in our communities. Nice One!

Find out more about how you can be a supporter.

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You Rights & More info

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Your Rights

As our patient, and under the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Code of Rights, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect
  • Be fully informed
  • Freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment and exploitation
  • dignity and independence
  • Services of an appropriate standard
  • Effective communication
  • Be fully informed
  • Make an informed choice and give informed consent
  • Support
  • Respect of teaching or research
  • Complain

If we don’t respect these, let us know and we’ll do everything we can to put it right.


Support in the process

If you need support or help with making a complaint, you can contact the office of the Health and Disability Commissioner and ask for an advocate.

www.hdc.org.nz
0800 555 050

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