St John Ambulance WA 'Looking for Legends', 800 extra volunteers for state's reopening

St John Ambulance WA 'Looking for Legends', 800 extra volunteers for state's reopening

Ambulance, Volunteer

6/12/2021 7:18:00 AM

St John Ambulance WA 'Looking for Legends', 800 extra volunteers for state's reopening

St John Ambulance WA say they will need more than 800 new volunteers as Western Australia prepares to open its borders next year.

St John Ambulance WA will launch a recruitment drive in January to try and attract 800 volunteersIt is expected Western Australia's borders will open in 2022Head of Country Ambulance Operations Justin Fonte expects an open border will put more pressure on WA's health system

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The head of Country Ambulance Operations in the state, Justin Fonte, said the recruitment drive would help ease some of the pressure on their existing volunteers."There's increased pressure for anything related to the health service and related to volunteering," he said.

The Looking for Legends Campaign will start in January.Mr Fonte said extra volunteers would be used to help move patients, as well as assist with any potential community cases in the regions.St John Ambulance WA has 160 response locations around the state.

"I think if we had an extra five or six volunteers at each of those locations, which are community members … then it will take massive amount of pressure away from the existing volunteer cohort," Mr Fonte said.Health system under pressureMember for North West Central Vince Catania said there was also extra pressure on the Royal Flying Doctor Service which had experienced a 20 per cent increase in demand during the past 12 months.

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"Mental patients which need to be assessed in Perth are spending days on end… you know four, five, six days, in a hospital waiting for them to be transferred down to Perth by RFDS," he said."That's because our health system in regional WA probably isn't where it should be and so more patients are being transferred down to Perth."

Nationals MP Vince Catania says when the states borders open it will put even more pressure on RFDS and St John Ambulance in WA.(ABC Pilbara: Laura Birch)Mr Catania said in Carnarvon, volunteer ambulance officers were unable to attend a call-out because it had no available volunteers.

"What happens if we do get a COVID outbreak right around regional Western Australia, that takes a lot of planes and volunteer ambulance services out of action," Mr Catania said.Mr Fonte said this was extremely rare but there was more pressure on volunteers in Carnarvon, as well as Exmouth and Coral Bay.

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He said while caseloads had grown in these towns, often due to an influx of tourists, the local population and the potential volunteers had not grown."These locations have less community members… to meet increasing demands," Mr Fonte said.In addition, locals often have less time to volunteer, as they work to fill in staff shortages due to not having backpackers or international workers.

Find more local newsMr Fonte said St John Ambulance had worked to increase support for Carnarvon volunteers by employing a community paramedic.He said he expected pressure on volunteers to increase next year."It's probably reasonable to think that it's going to continue next year and if we have an increase in cases then the pressure on the health system can increase," Mr Fonte said.

"Often if we just have people isolating and it reduces workforce for hospitals but also workforce for ambulance."

Read more: ABC News »

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