St John first aiders give thousands of hours of voluntary service in 2021

St John volunteers have given thousands of hours of service to the island by providing first aid cover at community events in 2021.

Volunteers have been on duty at seventy-two events, including the World Aid Walk, West Show, North Show, Vale Earth Fair, CI Pride, the Harbour Carnival, Autocross, Guernsey Marathon and many other sporting and public occasions. Collectively our first aiders have been on duty for more than one thousand six hundred hours and spent almost one thousand hours undertaking training.

Many of these local community events and sporting fixtures could not happen without the trained first aiders from St John, who give up their time to provide medical cover and help keep the public safe.

St John personnel undertake four days of initial training in all aspects of first aid and have to complete a rigorous assessment before being able to go on duty at events. Training is continuous, with fortnightly sessions held at the Rohais headquarters, which includes first aid refreshers as well as communication and radio skills. First aiders normally work in pairs and new recruits also have to shadow an experienced volunteer when they first start.

All first aiders are trained to use defibrillators and deal with a range of injuries and illnesses. Advanced First Aiders undertake additional training and have enhanced skills to use medical gases. The St John charity in Guernsey operates three ambulances and an ambulance car. The voluntary fleet is primarily white, which distinguishes it from yellow vehicles of the Emergency Ambulance Service, although much of the equipment inside the ambulance is exactly the same as the kit carried by the frontline crews. Key equipment includes a defibrillator/monitor, first response bag, first aid and burns kits, medical gases, stretchers, carry chairs and fracture splints. Most of the equipment is paid for by sponsorship, donations and fundraising.

Before a volunteer can drive an ambulance they have to complete driver training and assessment. A small number of volunteers are qualified in emergency transport, although the voluntary ambulances primarily act as static medical treatment centres at the venues.

St John also has a fleet of specially adapted bicycles used by the Cycle Response Unit. The Cycle Responders can be seen covering events that are spread over a large area, such as the Rocquainne Regatta, the World Aid Walk which stretches along the coastal path and the Santa Parade around St Peter Port.

Larger events such as the traditional Liberation Day or the forthcoming Island Games are planned for well in advance with additional volunteers and senior volunteers on duty, as well as Command vehicle on site. At every venue there an event manager responsible for overseeing the smooth running of the duty, deploying volunteers and co-ordinating with Guernsey’s Joint Emergency Services Control Centre.

The St John Ambulance Guernsey charity relies on fundraising and donations along with event charges to cover the operating cost, consumables, training and insurances. Like many other charities St John’s fundraising potential was affected by the Covid lockdowns, because so many events were cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

You can donate to support St John at https://giving.gg/donate/charity/54/St-John-Guernsey-LBG

Anyone interested in becoming a St John volunteer can email recruitment@stjohn.gg