Vol­un­teer num­bers crit­i­cal

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Holly Thomp­son

Man­jimup St John Am­bu­lance is look­ing to re­cruit more vol­un­teers as in­creased call outs have put ex­tra strain on mem­bers.

St John Man­jimup ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer Deb­bie Moloney said there had been 473 call outs un­til mid Oc­to­ber, only nine cases off the to­tal for last year.

“The work­load has in­creased quite dra­mat­i­cally over the past few years but the num­ber of vol­un­teers has stayed stag­nant,” Mrs Moloney said. The big­gest prob­lem with vol­un­teer num­bers was trans­port­ing pa­tients to Bun­bury.

“It takes four or five hours to get to Bun­bury and back and takes away two of our vol­un­teers and an am­bu­lance from the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“We then have to find two more vol­un­teers to cover for a while which is the most dif­fi­cult dur­ing the night.”

Mrs Moloney said an­other big is­sue was pro­vid­ing a ser­vice for com­mu­nity events, many of which could not go ahead with­out an am­bu­lance crew present.

David Birnie has been a St John vol­un­teer for more than 25 years and said vol­un­teer num­bers had gone down since he started.

“We have about 15 vol­un­teers on the books but only six or seven of us are on call full-time,” he said.

Mr Birnie said they used to have a crew ros­tered for day and night shifts but now only had a night ros­ter.

“Dur­ing the day it’s just any­one around town, we ask peo­ple to try and keep their ra­dio on just in case,” he said.

“Vol­un­teers will lose money at their day jobs just to get to a pri­or­ity one call be­cause it’s lifethreat­en­ing,” he said.

“I’ve been up as far as Walpole for pri­or­ity one calls and left here at 7am and got back 7am the next day.”

He said many other sub-cen­tres had the same prob­lem.

“We usu­ally call on other towns a few times a week mostly for trans­fers, but they are now say­ing they prob­a­bly can’t help any­more be­cause they’ve lost vol­un­teers too,” he said.

“I would have loved to see the new hos­pi­tal built with an MRI ma­chine be­cause that would have stopped a lot of trans­fers and taken pres­sure off us but un­for­tu­nately the health depart­ment doesn’t think like that.”

St John sub-cen­tres through­out the South West are look­ing to in­crease vol­un­teer num­bers to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

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