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Mission Critical ICT at St John NZ

Divina Paredes | Oct. 29, 2014
In his first week on the job, Martin Catterall joined the St John Clinical Control Centre staff who handle 111 emergency calls. The experience reaffirmed his decision to take on the inaugural CIO role for New Zealand's most trusted charity.

"And IT as a service, to that end, needed to be more disciplined and professional than ever before."

Catterall explains the distinct differences in his current role and his past role at WHO.

"WHO was a knowledge-based organisation where we would recommend policies and health information systems to countries," he states. "My role did not go down to the national level, it was predominantly international and supporting the organisation.

"We were largely focusing on the less developed countries.

"It's a much more hands-on public health environment here. In the past, we were talking about numbers, we were talking about statistics, we were talking about tracking the evolution of a disease in a particular country, crossing borders, and so on.

"Here, it's about picking up a 111 call and allocating the priority to it and either sending an ambulance to that person, or giving them an alternative recovery path."

St John was Catterall's first job back in New Zealand after 20 years of international ICT executive roles.

He graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Science in 1984 and completed a post-graduate diploma in science a year later. His first IT role was as a programmer analyst for the Department of Labour in Wellington before he moved into database management.

He was headhunted from NZ Post by Dairy Farm International in Hong Kong in 1992. In 1996, Catterall moved to Australia, where he became the Asia-Pacific Year 2000 project manager for Kellogg.

Before joining WHO, he was in Malaysia with Kellogg and with Singapore retail chain, Cold Storage, implementing a bespoke ERP system.

Building fences

Catterall is cognisant of how ICT will work with St John's 10,000 volunteers across the country.

"We need to improve how we relate to our volunteers, how we support them in their fundamental work for the community. And that's going to need some changes in how we employ technology and how we manage technology across the country," he says.

Another component of the job is working with other emergency services such as the New Zealand Fire Service, Police, Civil Defence and Wellington Free Ambulance Service.

"We're trying to improve the linkages we have with those external stakeholders in emergency services and we're also trying to look at how we can work with our operational people to improve effectiveness and productivity in the field."

Recently, Catterall has been travelling to Christchurch to meet with the heads of emergency organisations involved in setting up the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.

The precinct is the first major public building to be built in Christchurch by the government since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and will house all emergency services. These include the Ministry of Justice, Police, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Fire Service and the Christchurch City Council.


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