Help save lives with St John AmbulanceBy Jon Nurse
May 08, 2012
Every year a number of people equivalent to the population of Reading die when they could have been saved through first aid.
St John Ambulance taught 800,000 people first aid last year and statistics show that their volunteers are being used more and more in Berkshire.
Jon Nurse found out more about the charity’s work in our county.
St John Ambulance volunteers hit the headlines in February when they saved the life of a runner who suffered a heart attack during Wokingham Half Marathon.
Stuart Baddeley, 45, from Winnersh, collapsed with a heart attack after passing the three mile marker, but quick-thinking medical professionals who were running the race and St John Ambulance volunteers gave him vital treatment on the scene.
He has since returned to work and plans to run the race again next year.
That incident was one of hundreds of people being treated by volunteers in Berkshire.
The charity’s annual statistics show that 1,039 people in Berkshire received emergency medical treatment from St John Ambulance volunteers last year, a rise from 964 the previous year.
Berkshire’s 482 volunteers, 55 of whom are based in the Wokingham area, gave a total of 66,764 hours service in 2011.
The time was spent on providing first aid cover at 147 public events, training, transport, youth work and social care.
Berkshire St John Ambulance Commander Sharon Johnson said: “Not enough people would know what to do in a medical emergency.
“Knowing first aid is one of the most important things you could ever learn and it’s very easy.
“St John Ambulance runs courses for all ages and I would appeal to everyone to at least learn some basic skills – you never know when you might need it.”
The charity believes 150,000 people die nationally each year in situations where first aid could have been the difference between life and death.
Berkshire St John Ambulance’s Ann Knight wants people to realise that volunteering is more than just acting as first aiders at events.
She said: “All members learn basic first aid skills, but people don’t necessarily have to go out on frontline first aid duties at public events if they prefer not to.
“There are plenty of other ways to support the organisation – for example with fundraising, admin and youth leadership.”
Volunteering at the charity is for all ages. Berkshire St John Ambulance has 44 Badgers, aged five to 10, and 182 Cadets, aged 11 to 17.
People wanting to become a volunteer can join either the Loddon Valley or Bracknell division.
Loddon Valley members meet at the organisation’s county headquarters in Church Road, Woodley, on Tuesday evenings, while Bracknell volunteers meet at the divisional HQ in Crowthorne Road North, Bracknell, on Monday evenings.
Anyone interested in supporting St John Ambulance can find out more at www.sja.org.uk/berks or by calling (0118) 933 5511.