St John WA launches Statewide campaign to recruit more volunteer ambulance officers

Kate Campbell and Cally Dupe Countryman
St John Ambulance volunteer Wendy Price says volunteering can change a person’s life.
Camera IconSt John Ambulance volunteer Wendy Price says volunteering can change a person’s life. Credit: St John Ambulance/St John Ambulance

Volunteers step up through a desire to help others and to enrich their own lives. But not every volunteering opportunity comes with the chance to help save lives.

However that’s the case for St John WA, with the emergency service provider launching its first Statewide country recruitment campaign, called Looking for Legends, to help turn everyday West Australians into volunteer ambos.

The recruitment drive comes amid a 6.9 per cent spike over 2½ years in the number of cases that required ambulance attendance in volunteer-only country areas.

St John WA head of country ambulance Justin Fonte said the organisation hoped to boost volunteer numbers by at least 10 per cent to support the rise in cases.

“Our country ambulance volunteers are the backbone of the Western Australian community, providing regional and remote residents with the care they need when they need it most,” he said.

“St John WA is incredibly grateful to have more than 3600 volunteers who have helped provide care to thousands of residents in regional WA over the past year.

“We are calling on all Western Australians across the State to put their hand up and take part in an initiative that will have a positive impact in your community. T

“There is no role that has a greater meaning than one that can change the life of someone’s loved one.”

Ravensthorpe resident, 2021 Volunteer of the Year and St John WA volunteer ambulance officer Wendy Price said volunteering for St John WA had changed her life.

“The feeling of the patients being so grateful that you’ve turned up to help them when they need it is so rewarding. I love small communities, the people are great and we’re all the same, we’re all out there to look after each other, to help each other,” she said.

“Volunteering offers countless benefits for those seeking to give back to our local Ravensthorpe and Great Southern community. Not only has volunteering with St John WA been a rewarding experience, but it’s also helped me learn important life skills and establish stronger friendships and social networks.”

More than 400 people in the Mid West already volunteer for St John, one of whom is Geraldton resident Ebony Verryt, who said the decision to put her hand up despite her busy schedule had changed her life.

“As a mum of two young boys my calendar quickly fills up with school and social commitments. However, I decided to make time for volunteering as I see it as a vital contribution to building a stronger and safer community for my family. For this reason, I choose to volunteer as a St John Ambulance officer and help change the lives of others for the better,” Ms Verryt said.

After years as a volunteer ambulance officer, Ms Verryt recently upskilled to become an emergency medical technician.

St John’s 160 locations in regional WA include 120 sub-centres that are fully volunteer-run. There is also more than 30 sub-centres where a mixture of volunteer ambulance officers and career and community paramedics work side-by-side.

St John Ambulance chief executive Michelle Fyfe told a Parliamentary inquiry last year that many locations in WA would not have an ambulance service without volunteers.

Justin Fonte, the head of country ambulance operations in WA, previously told the ABC that if every response location had five or six extra volunteers — equating to at least 800 additional volunteers — the pressure would be eased on existing volunteers.

To find out more about becoming at St John Ambulance volunteer, visit stjohnwa.com.au/changelives/volunteer.

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