St John bus robbed at gunpoint, staff attacked


A ST John Ambulance bus was yesterday robbed by a group of men at Morata Two in the Moresby North-West electorate.
It took place at about 5.40am, eight officers were on board.
According to a statement from St John, the group of men blocked off the main road and threatened the driver with a gun to the head.
They then smashed the window and helped themselves.
They grabbed items including mobile phones, bank cards and money among other things.
Two St John female officers were punched and kicked several times and indecently assaulted while being dragged out of the bus. They were ordered to lie face-down outside the bus and left there.
“According to our team, the group of men appeared heavily intoxicated,” the statement said.
The matter has been reported to police.
“As a result of this, St John will be suspending all services to the suburb of Morata for an indefinite period until safety of all our St John team can be guaranteed.”
St John Ambulance commissioner and chief executive Matthew Cannon condemned the actions of the gang, saying St John did not discriminate when attending to patients, whether hoodlums or not, and such actions by a few show a complete lack of human decency and respect for emergency service workers.
“As a society, we should be ashamed when a minority of thugs behave in this abhorrent manner, especially towards health workers,” he said.
“Our men and women are committed to this lifesaving profession and have always made it their business to be the first to respond to any emergency of any magnitude.
“A few members of the crew are traumatised and will be referred for counselling, especially the female staff on board.
“The smashed window has now incurred another unnecessary cost, money that should be invested into the ambulance operations to save lives.”
A crisis meeting took place between local community leaders and St John later in the day. Community leaders condemned the robbery and promised to work with police to identify youths involved.
Chairman of Morata Two Association Andrew Ipu said: “Services such as the ambulance service are here to serve communities, therefore, the community must take ownership in protecting and ensuring their safety.”
Community leader Henry Paia said if parents knew their sons were involved, they should come forth with information.
St John in the first quarter of the year responded to 670 emergency calls from the Moresby North-West electorate.
Three-quarters of the calls were from Morata.