The services St. John Ambulance provides in the region are a hot commodity as of late, and the organization is looking to expand with more volunteers.
“St. John Ambulance has been in the Trail area for almost 70 years, however it was just reorganized about four years ago for the Trail-Kootenay branch,” Gerry Rempel, brigade superintendent said.
The services extend to Castlegar, Nelson, Salmo, Kaslo, Rossland and Beaver Valley.
“As the brigade itself, we provide first aid services at community events,” Rempel said. “This year, for example, we covered the Relay for Life in Trail and Children’s Day at Pass Creek Park.”
At the community events, trained volunteers provide first aid assistance for a donation.
“We try to get to as many community events as we can,” Rempel said. “If we don’t get a donation, it’s fine, we’re there to provide our services as people request us.”
Currently, there are 14 volunteers on the brigade.
“They ask when you first join to have a St. John Ambulance standard first aid and CPR – B [adult, child and infant],” he said. “Once you’re in we provide the other training.”
People looking to join must also be 16 or older.
Other areas that need volunteers include the therapy dog program.
“[The volunteers and demand] has really increased in the last year,” Rempel said.
The program takes a dog and their owner into care homes such as Talarico Place and Castleview Care Centre so the dog can spend time with the residents. They’re able to talk with the volunteer, pet the dog and walk it on a leash.
“The dogs have to go through a very strict training program,” Rempel said.
“The idea is the therapy dogs visit seniors homes and it’s been proven that an animal can really provide therapy for the seniors.”
St. John Ambulance also provides a variety of courses and training.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but St. John Ambulance provides a lot of online courses,” Rempel said, including Food Safe, Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Workplace Harassment Sensitivity Training and WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Material Information System).
“We have instructors that provide St. John Ambulance first aid training and CPR training,” Rempel added. “We work out of the Trail United Church but we also have other first aid providers in communities like Salmo and Sparwood. The instructors can arrange all that through our Trail office.”
Rempel said the first aid training is standardized throughout the world, and the brigade is an integral part of the emergency programs in West Kootenay cities.
“So in case of a disaster, we do provide our services,” he said. “We have our own mobile first aid post, which is similar to an ambulance.”
For more information about St. John Ambulance or to volunteer, call the Trail office at 250-364-2064.