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Media Releases | St John Ambulance
Celebrating National Volunteers Week: Being prepared for the worst while hoping for the best
  22 May 2020

As the world continues to be rattled with the fast and sudden spread of COVID-19, many communities have come together while staying apart. Neighbourhoods across the world initiated teddy bear hunts, painted rainbows on windows, sang from balconies, and participated in the Front Porch Project. Each activity ignited a sense of togetherness that left many looking for even more ways to support their community during this strange time.

While the Territory has had few cases of the virus to date, St John NT prepared for the worst case scenario. Countries around the globe struggled to contain the spread of disease and many emergency services were forced to respond with a reduced capacity. Eager to serve their community as they have done many times before, St John NT Volunteers stepped up to join the frontline. 

“Our normal volunteer training was just starting to ramp up before it was shut down due to the pandemic,” Brendon Bayliss, a Palmerston Division volunteer shared. “I wanted to hone my skills and be ready to help out if things got worse.”

“I could see the community preparing for the pandemic not knowing how bad it might get,” Alice Springs volunteer Courtney Magann shared. “I thought that if I could help our town with this situation and support the paramedics, then why not?”

Brendon, Courtney, and over 70 other St John NT Volunteers signed up to participate in the St John NT Assistant to Ambulance training program. The program prepared interested volunteers to support paramedics in the event that extra capacity was required. 

“We learnt about driving ambulances and the risks involved,” Alice Springs volunteer Dana Schembri explained. “We also learnt a lot about manual handling and the extrication of patients. There was a lot of hands-on training and the paramedics running the course shared some great tips and tricks.”

After attending a two-day course, volunteers were invited to see these skills in action by scheduling an observer shift. Dana, who is currently in the midst of a paramedicine degree, found the observer shift to be the greatest opportunity for learning.

“The crew was incredibly encouraging,” Dana stated. “We were able to attend a variety of jobs, so I was able to see how different cases were handled. I learned a lot and really enjoyed seeing how they attended patients and how they made their clinical decisions.”

Thanks to Territorians’ great effort in containing the spread of disease, the Territory is slowly easing restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic. Though no volunteers were required to join the frontline, St John NT volunteers are now equipped with even more lifesaving skills to serve their communities.

“Our volunteers are a valuable resource,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker expressed. “Their dedication is seen in their typical voluntary roles, such as providing first aid at events across the Territory, and also in the way they come together to support their communities during times of crisis.”

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