Rotorua Mountain Bike First Response Unit receives funding boost to purchase new vehicle

A $30,500 grant has helped Rotorua Mountain Bike Club purchase a 4WD van for its life-saving First Response Unit.

The vital First Response Unit operates in Rotorua’s local forest with the support of many sponsors, public donations, local business, and funders. The unit has rescued about 2000 people since its inception in December 2016.

While Rotorua Mountain Bike Club’s priority has been to maintain the service, Secretary Barbara Jenks says the need for a 4WD vehicle became paramount.

“The Unit has been using a two-wheel drive ute, loaned from the council, since 2019 and while we appreciate it, it isn’t suitable for patients on back-boards or for extracting patients from access roads that require a 4WD.”

The new, modified Toyota Hiace van will provide better outcomes for patients, ensuring they can be transported safely and efficiently, along with all their belongings.

“Sometimes ambulances are not immediately available so we are hoping with this new vehicle we can, in an emergency, transfer patients straight to the hospital. This could dramatically improve patient outcomes,” Jenks says.

The new van will be refitted by removing the back seats in order to secure a stretcher in the back. It will have enough room for three passengers in the back and potentially room for a bike – something that the ute couldn’t fit.

Jenks says Rotorua Trust is “amazing” and has been incredibly supportive of the work the First Response Unit do.

“We are very excited.. and all credit to Rotorua Trust for being flexible and making a quick decision. We located a suitable vehicle, and with so few available in New Zealand, we needed to proceed with the purchase as soon as possible. I sent our application to the board, and they approved it very quickly.”

Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says Rotorua Trust is proud to support the First Response Unit.

“The medical emergency help they provide in the forest is exceptional and ensures our community feel safe on our local trails. It makes sense to improve this vital service with a 4WD vehicle.”