Clin­i­cal vol­un­teers play vi­tal ambo role

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Adam Poulsen

Vol­un­teer am­bu­lance of­fi­cers in re­gional WA are be­ing trained to the same stan­dard as pro­fes­sional ca­reer paramedics in parts of North Amer­ica and Europe, St John Am­bu­lance has re­vealed.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion made the find­ings af­ter send­ing staff to at­tend in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal con­fer­ences where they com­pared notes with over­seas paramedics.

They also dis­cov­ered St John’s WA Coun­try Am­bu­lance Ser­vice — which is mostly made up of clin­i­cal vol­un­teers — is up there with the most ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive emer­gency ser­vices in the world.

St John Mid West re­gional man­ager Lynne Hunt said the role of vol­un­teers was vi­tal and they helped to save lives daily while work­ing along­side ca­reer paramedics.

“Our clin­i­cal vol­un­teers play an im­por­tant role and do a fan­tas­tic job,” she said.

“They have re­ceived the train­ing, skills and knowl­edge nec­es­sary to be able to at­tend as an am­bu­lance of­fi­cer but that doesn’t re­place the skills our uni­ver­si­ty­trained ca­reer paramedics have — so it’s a mat­ter of work­ing to­gether.”

Of the 464 clin­i­cal vol­un­teers in the Mid West, 59 are based in Ger­ald­ton.

Greg Martin and Ted Ni­col are two of those vol­un­teers.

Mr Ni­col, who moved to Ger­ald­ton from the US six years ago, said he got in­volved be­cause he wanted to give back to the com­mu­nity.

“I was in­ter­ested in the field, and I wanted to do­nate some of my time and get out among the com­mu­nity, be­cause work­ing from home I was a bit iso­lated,” he said.

“The whole ex­pe­ri­ence has been one of the bet­ter things I’ve done in my life.”

Mr Martin, 21, who has been vol­un­teer­ing for over a year, said he had am­bi­tions to work in emer­gency ser­vices for as long as he could re­mem­ber.

He has honed his skills vol­un­teer­ing at lo­ca­tions around the State, in­clud­ing Shark Bay, Carnar­von, Wick­ham and Roe­bourne — ex­pe­ri­ences that have given him valu­able train­ing work­ing with other vol­un­teers at sub-cen­tres where there is no ca­reer para­medic on duty.

Ms Hunt said some small towns in out­ly­ing ar­eas might only re­ceive a hand­ful of calls a year, so it was not al­ways fea­si­ble to have a ca­reer para­medic in the lo­cal­ity.

“They would lose some of their skills by not hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to prac­tise, so that’s why the big­ger cen­tres have ca­reer paramedics as well as vol­un­teers, while the smaller cen­tres will have the vol­un­teers with the back-up and sup­port of a com­mu­nity para­medic who is uni­ver­sity trained.”

She praised re­gional am­bu­lance crews for their speedy emer­gency re­sponse times, which she said were of­ten quicker than those of their coun­ter­parts in big cities.

“Some­times they might get the call at 2am when they’re sleep­ing, but they are able to re­spond very quickly,” she said.

“Ev­ery day they put their skills to the test and we reg­u­larly see ex­am­ples where re­gional crews have been able to as­sist to save lives in so many ways.”

Ms Hunt said more young peo­ple such as Mr Martin were sign­ing up. “It’s great be­cause they’re gain­ing skills and knowl­edge that will be with them for life,” she said.

Mr Martin said a ca­reer in paramedicine would suit him per­fectly.

“I’m a very com­mu­nity-based per­son,” he said. “I’ve been in­volved in the Scouts since I was young and I’m also a part of the Ger­ald­ton Lions Club, so I just en­joy it all round.”

Pic­ture: Adam Poulsen

Greg Martin and Ted Ni­col are two of 59 clin­i­cal vol­un­teers with the St John Am­bu­lance Ser­vice in Ger­ald­ton.

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