St John pleads for help

PETRA FINER- SOUTH TARANAKI STAR
Last updated 10:49 21/06/2012
Jenny Dietschin
PETRA FINER
Hawera St John ambulance volunteer Jenny Dietschin outside the ambulance depot at Hawera Hospital.

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South Taranaki Star

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Seven months after the last volunteer drive, Taranaki's St John Ambulance service is still desperate for help.

An October membership drive didn't generate many volunteers, meaning the service is still running on about 90 members when it needs approximately 130, says Ian May, St John Taranaki operations manager.

"Our recruitment from last year wasn't that successful at gaining enough people in the South Taranaki area," he says.

"If we could boost our numbers by 15 to 20 people, we would be really, really pleased."

St John responded to 3150 emergency incidents in South Taranaki over the 12 months to May 2012.

In Taranaki it responded to 14,156 in the same time frame.

While he describes the bid for volunteers as an ongoing tough and challenging battle, it is especially so in stations like Patea and Opunake.

"The ability for a vehicle in that community to respond, requires people from that community to volunteer," says Mr May.

"While an ambulance will always respond to a call, the ambulance within those communities requires people within the community to help with those responses."

He says while volunteers in a smaller community feel a sense of responsibility, they all love what they do.

"Once they explore it, and they get into it, the value of it and the enjoyment and what they get out at a personal level is quite significant."

St John volunteer Jenny Dietschin agrees.

She started volunteering with the ambulance service in 2008 and now hopes to one-day became a paid team member.

She does two shifts a week, one day and one night, with extra shifts being added when required.

"It's one of those things that gets under your skin, and you become very passionate for it," she says.

Mrs Dietschin has recently completed her national diploma in ambulance practice. It's not a requirement but she so enjoys the work that she decided to further her training. "They've covered all the costs but it's my time, commitment and willingness to learn and upskill," she says.

She says while the team have had a few new members come through, it's important to see more.

"We always need more volunteers.

"If they don't want to become involved in the ambulance side, there's always the events side," Mrs Dietschin says.

St John doesn't just provide day-to-day ambulance services in emergency situations, they also attend events to provide safety support.

Anyone interested in becoming a St John volunteer in Taranaki, in particular Patea, Hawera, Stratford or Opunake, should call 0800STJOHN (0800785646) or visit stjohn.org.nz for more information.

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- Taranaki

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