Sunday, December 04, 2005

St John & Football

I've not really mentioned much about my St John Ambulance life - it's what got me interested in working for the ambulance service in the first place, and allowed me to meet some great people already in the job who gave me invaluable advice for getting into the service.

I think St John still creates the image of people in black and white uniforms wearing a white satchel and handing out plasters. And to an extent, that is still true (apart from the satchels!) but it is also true that St John has changed quite a lot over the last decade or so. There is now extensive ambulance training - in total over 400 hours worth of training, all done in members own time.

This training includes the First Aid at Work course (every member gets that), manual handling, patient handling, fundamental care, AED (Automated External Defibrillator), Medical Gases (which includes airway management and using the Bag Valve Mask resuscitator), and Pre-hospital Fracture management, Ambulance Aid training, written assessment and practical assessment. Those courses are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

As a St John member, I've crewed ambulances at the British Superbikes Championship, British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone, and various club motorcycle and car racing events. I've dealt with fatal motorcycle racing accidents, including a fatal accident at the British Superbikes event at Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire a few years ago.

This year, St John has provided first aid and ambulance cover for the London Marathon, Live 8, the Download Festival in Leicestershire, Brighton Gay Pride, and again at the major motor racing events.

That's another good reason to be a member - you get to go to loads of great events, and it doesn't cost you a penny to get in!

A lot of people in the ambulance service knock St John members as being "wannabes" - and to be fair, there are a few of those around. But there are far more very good members who are happy to just be a volunteer, do the best they can, and know when they're out of their depth and ask for further assistance. Unfortunately, as with any organisation, there will always be the odd few who think they know more than they do and spoil it for the others - it only takes one member to put across a poor image to tar everyone with the same brush.

So I got a phone call last week from one of the London District Area Officers. "Steve, can you help us out at a football match on Saturday? We're really short of members and I'd be very grateful if you could help," he said.

"Ok, I'll come along." So on Saturday, I hopped in my car, and drove down to the football ground.

As it was my first time at that ground, I was given a tour round so I was familiar with all the entrances & exits, and I was briefed on the major incident plan. I was placed in one of the "treatment centres" - a posh term for a room with a couple of beds. We'd just settled down at the start of the match, when we heard a call for one of the foot patrols to attend an incident in the stand where we were based.

We began to prepare for the arrival of the patient. When the patient was brought into us on the Carry Chair, it was one of our own members! I was pleased to see the members had put him on oxygen, and they'd done a good primary survey and gave a good handover. He'd been standing at the back of the stand, felt ill, and collapsed. We transferred him onto the bed, and I took his pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturations, blood sugar levels and temperature. I couldn't find anything wrong, but he still wasn't well, so I decided to send him into hospital.

I'm still waiting to find out how he is - I hope to hear soon.

It was back to the paid job today on overtime - I'll post about that at a later date.


Anonymous Stan said...

People knock the St. John Ambulance but I think they're wonderful. This world would be a better place if we had more like them. A marvellous breed!

11:52 pm  
Blogger Ellie said...

Sounds like a great organization!

4:17 pm  

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