St John makes plea for volunteers

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St John in Oamaru is appealing for volunteers after low numbers left them one ambulance down briefly and short-staffed multiple times.

The charity, which has two ambulances in Oamaru, was left with only one operational ambulance earlier this month due to a lack of volunteers, St John North Otago territory manager Ken Barton said.

There were also 11 occasions in November where an ambulance was left with only one person running it, which meant outside assistance was required, Mr Barton said.

“We have to call for help, sometimes from the fire service, sometimes from a family member.”

Incidents where the charity was short-staffed left him feeling “quite vulnerable” as it slowed down reaction times of the ambulance service, Mr Barton said.

“We just haven’t got sufficient people during the day.”

St John needed about five volunteers to fill the day shift in Oamaru, from 7am to 7pm, Mr Barton said.

“It’s important because we want to provide a gold standard service to the community.”

Their service was crucial to the community, and volunteering left people fulfilled and happy, Mr Barton said.

There were about 25 volunteers in the area who dedicated their time to running the ambulances in the town, he said.

Without people like them volunteering, “there is no service”, he said.

“It’s really difficult for a handful of people to provide 24/7 coverage.

“Everybody has to do their bit.”

St John Oamaru station manager Bob Wilson said it was important volunteers joined the station.

Rural communities like Oamaru and Kurow, which, on Friday, had no crew on its ambulance and required Oamaru volunteers, did not have many people to choose from for their ambulance service, he said.

People interested in volunteering for the Monday-Friday day shift, from 7am-7pm would be welcomed, he said.

“Come in, have a look, see if it’s for you.”

He said he started in the job through volunteering and eventually moved into paid work.

He enjoyed the job and found it fulfilling, Mr Wilson said.

To get involved with St John in Oamaru, go to join.stjohn.org.nz and search using the keyword ‘Oamaru’.

St John in Oamaru can also be contacted on 434 8100.

By DAVID DE LOREAN

SAVING LIVES: Bob Wilson and Tracy Hudson are just two of the people who keep St John in Oamaru going.

PHOTO: DAVID DE LOREAN