Six not enough: Cowichan’s St. John Ambulance needs more bodies

If they can’t attract more volunteers, the Cowichan Valley chapter of St. John’s Ambulance is in real danger of having to shut down.

Addie Clark, divisional superintendent, said there are just six active members left in the group, with 17 on the books, to provide about 3,000 hours of community service.

"We’ve had a huge change," she said, explaining that many of their members have come of the age where they have gone away to further their education, and so are not available for events in the community, a key part of what St. John Ambulance does.

"We would really like to start recruiting more people to keep this service going, or people will burn out," she said.

Over the next couple of months, the group is looking to recruit at least 15 new people, Clark said.

There is a time commitment involved. Each volunteer is asked to put in 60 event hours per year, which amounts to five hours per month. But the scheduling is flexible, Clark said.

"You can manage your volunteer time around your life," she said.

Twice per month there are training sessions, and volunteers must attend 80 per cent of them.

There’s a lot of payoff for joining as well, particularly if you are interested in pursuing a career in a medical-related field.

There is a prerequisite standard first aid, then members get free training to be a medical first responder. There are also bursaries and discounts for people who choose to pursue medicine further.

"We are the only agency where you can actually get your feet wet doing patient care," Clark said. "There is actually no other volunteer service that allows you to do patient care….This allows you to get your foot in the door at no cost."

Now, training time put in can also count towards credits for licenced Emergency Medical Assistants, experience that is invaluable, Clark said.

"If you’re a new person on BC Ambulance that’s like gold, because you’re not going to get it working for BC Ambulance until you get seniority," she said.

There is also a youth program available.

Anyone interested in joining the group can attend a special introductory evening on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at the St. John Ambulance office at 169 Craig St. in Duncan, above Bucky’s Sports Shop.

You can also contact Clark at addie.clark@bc.sja.ca or call 250-510-2970.