Small communities are being applauded for the way their
members have stepped up to volunteer for St John.
But no matter how many step forward, there will always be
room for more, St John in Canterbury says.
Numbers of volunteers at rural ambulance stations throughout
Canterbury have dwindled in the past 12 months, in some
places falling to crisis levels.
It means St John has struggled to offer a 24-hour,
seven-days-a-week service in some small towns, such as
However, a persistent recruitment campaign, greater publicity
and industry support has resulted in a good response from
''It is better than what we have had, but the journey has
still got some distance to go,'' St John North Otago
territory manager Ken Barton said.
Recent publicity, as well as support from Meridian Energy,
had seen good numbers step forward in Twizel and Kurow to
undertake training, Mr Barton said.
Pressure had been mounting in Twizel as 12 St John volunteers
did the work of 24 to maintain a 24-hour emergency
service,Meridian Energy was supporting six people in training
and five other volunteers from Twizel had also come forward,
In Kurow four more volunteers had stepped forward.
Mr Barton said the station of the next greatest need in his
region was WaimateThe stations still did not have a 100%
complement of volunteers, he said. It took time for people to
be trained and there was the ongoing need to replace those
who moved on.
St John South Canterbury territory manager Darryn Grigsby
said that ideally he would like to see 10 more volunteers at
each of the rural stations in his area.
A recent grant meant two paid staff could be appointed to
Temuka but volunteers would still be needed to support the
''Recruitment is an ongoing process, people will always leave
... and we will always find a place for you,'' Mr Grigsby
St John Mid Canterbury (including Akaroa) territory manager
Grant Dewar said stations in Mayfield, Methven, Darfield and
Akaroa needed more volunteers.
St John relied heavily on volunteers, especially in rural
areas, and those who served the service worked very hard for
their communities, he said.
He was also grateful to employers who gave their staff the
flexibility to be available for the service.
However, St John, like the fire service relied on volunteers
and had to compete for people's time against work demands,
family pressures and other community needs.
St John would work with people to find workable solutions, he
St John Waimakariri territory manager Blair Andrews said
despite having a good number of volunteers, the workload had
increased and this was putting more pressure on people and
how much time they were able to give.
In the past volunteers who were available all night might
only be called out two or three times and be able to rest in
between emergencies and so not be too tired for working the
next day, he said.
But the larger volume of ambulance work meant volunteers were
not necessarily able to safely perform their jobs the day
after a night shift.
Mr Andrews said there was an induction night for new
volunteer staff every three months.
He aimed to get four to five new volunteers at a time and
usually was able to fill those positions quite easily, he
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can visit their
local St John office or phone on 0800-785-646.
- by Ruth Grundy