Volunteering life 'keeps me young'

17:00, May 16 2014
Jean Dippie
LONG SERVICE: Jean Dippie has been recognised for 42 years of service to the St John Temuka Division.

St John Temuka Division volunteer Jean Dippie was recognised for 42 years of service at last night's St John South Canterbury District awards.

She has seen a lot of changes, mainly in technology.

When she first started volunteering for the ambulance service in 1971 there were no cellphones or pagers to alert volunteers to callouts.

The only point of contact was the landline phone, which meant she couldn't leave the house in case there was an emergency.

Weekday duty was from 6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am on weekends.

"I had a very understanding family, six children and a husband," she said.


"It was quite a lot, I was never there for meals."

Now 83, she can remember one Sunday morning coming in from helping her husband in the cowshed and getting a callout at 8am.

"I managed to get home to put lunch on to cook before the next call at 12 o'clock and next call at 5 o'clock. So, no meals that day."

The long-time volunteer is well known in the Temuka area, having lived there all her life.

"Being in little Temuka, you're not just the nurse on the back of the ambulance. You knew a lot of people."

The hardest aspect she can recall was when her son was involved in a car crash. Fortunately, she had switched shifts and did not have to attend.

However, no matter who it was her crews were called out to, the adrenaline kicks in and "you've got to do something".

As an ambulance nurse, she was one of 24 St John members and two doctors who were on call for everything from heart attacks to car accidents.

The team was once called to a suspected cot death and although she was able to resuscitate the baby, when she returned home she decided she couldn't carry on in the ambulance team.

She became a member of the Temuka area committee, involved behind the scenes, looking after finances and the annual appeal.

She has been part of the committee for more than 20 years and is currently the overseer for cadets in Temuka.

She is also involved with the Presbyterian Church, Meals on Wheels, and has volunteered at the Temuka Salvation Army Family Store for the last 32 years.

"It keeps me young. I love going out and meeting people."

The Timaru Herald