Tony Ahern, Chief Executive Officer of St John Ambulance Western Australia visited Guernsey this week to see the services St John Guernsey provides to the local community.
Last night (13 November) Mr Ahern gave a presentation to politicians, civil servants and St John personnel on the heritage and strategy of the organisation.
Similar to the local service in both structure and funding provision, St John Ambulance Western Australia is delivers pre-hospital care through paid staff and volunteers. The organisation provides this service across Western Australia’s 2.5million square kilometres – the largest area in the world covered by a single ambulance service. It employs more than 1,500 paid staff and over 4,500 volunteers.
Guernsey and Western Australia are two of only four places in the world, the others being Australia Northern Territories and New Zealand, to operate under this service provision model and Mr Ahern’s visit was to learn more about the Guernsey operation as well as share best practise.
During his presentation Mr Ahern, spoke of many benefits of the St John model of emergency healthcare provision.
‘The importance and need to deliver first aid training to the community alongside the delivery of a world-class emergency ambulance service should not be underestimated. These activities essentially work together– a high level of first aid resilience is needed for better community outcomes for example lower cardiac arrest survival rates. You have a unique opportunity in Guernsey to make first aid a part of everyone’s life,’ he said.
‘It is important to network and leverage learnings from each other – despite our wildly different geographical locations the organisations have many similarities,’ said Mr Ahern.
Nik van Leuven, Chairman of the Bailiwick of Guernsey St John commented that St John Western Australia’s strategy of integrating first aid into the community has given the local organisation a lot of food for thought.
‘The philosophy that teaching a child to dial 999 is as important as ensuring a trained paramedic responds to an emergency call. We cannot and will not stand still as an organisation so anything we can gain from the experience of a similar model like St John Western Australia will add value to the future of our Guernsey organisation.’
Mr Ahern joined St John Ambulance in 1973 as a cadet becoming a career ambulance officer in 1980. Rising through the organisation he became Chief Executive Officer in 2006. He was awarded the prestigious Ambulance Service Medal in 2004.