Japan is giving Atiu and Mangaia two new Toyota Landcruiser four-wheel drive ambulances.
It’s hoped they will arrive in Rarotonga on May 21 – if shipping services goes well – and will then be transported to the outer islands.
Ryu Austin, from the Japanese Embassy in New Zealand, said the ambulances would improve medical preparedness, especially to respond swiftly to Covid-19.
The ambulances are part of a $3 million aid grant, which also includes heavy machinery to upgrade the roads.
“This grant aid is intended to promote efforts for assisting the Cook Islands’ economic and social development and building resilient infrastructure for reducing natural disaster risk,” she said.
Last year, Cook Islands Government declined the Rotary New Zealand offer of a second-hand Mercedes ambulance for Rarotonga, because it was old with potentially high maintenance costs, and because there was nobody here equipped to service Mercedes.
But health ministry Te Marae Ora is already operating another Toyota ambulance, and the country is well-equipped to service that brand.
* ‘Proud of my grandfather’
Toyota is on the Government Fleet Management Policy list of approved brands, based on ability to service them on the island, availability of spare parts and a proven track record, and that government vehicles should be brand new.
Austin said the Government of Japan decided to provide the grant of 200 million yen, (NZ$3m) to the Cook Islands Government for the fiscal year 2018.
She said this was done during the services of the former Ambassador of Japan in Wellington and the former High Commissioner of the Cook Islands in Wellington Teremoana Yala, on 21 June 2018.
The amublances are each equipped with a main stretcher, a fold-away stretcher, an oxygen inhaler, a sphygmomanometer, a suction unit, a head immobiliser, a defibrillator, a fire extinguisher and more.