A reassuring sight: St. John Ambulance Brigade in uniform and on the scene (from left) Cpl. Brayden Coward

Don the black and white of St. John Ambulance

Campbell River is a safer place because the local St. John Ambulance Brigade provides first aid at many local events

Campbell River is a safer place because the local St. John Ambulance Brigade provides first aid at many local events.

“There are a couple of people who are alive today thanks to us being at these events,” said Brigade president Vern Coward.

That’s why it would be a shame to lose the local chapter. There aren’t many events that are put on in this town where the St. John Ambulance Brigade isn’t on duty. In fact, safety requirements at many events include the required presence of St. John Ambulance brigade members.

“A lot of these places have in their bylaws that they have St. John Ambulance there, not just first aid, St. John Ambulance,” Coward said.

From Canada Day to Campbell River Storm games, to track meets, martial arts events and other festivities, it’s a rare event in Campbell River over the last 50-60 years that hasn’t had the St. John Ambulance Brigade providing first aid.

The Campbell River Storm has been partnering with St. John Ambulance since the team first began operations.

But like many volunteer organizations in Campbell River, they are in need of more volunteers, especially because St. John Ambulance is in such high demand.

“Our provincial body is saying, ‘You don’t have the numbers right now to cover all these events,’” Coward said.

If they don’t get their numbers up, the Campbell River division might have to suspend its operations.

That would be a shame, most would agree, because St. John Ambulance is such an integral part of this community. Who doesn’t feel better when they see the black and white uniforms and the green and white mobile unit of the St. John Ambulance Brigade at an event?

Besides providing direct first aid coverage, the brigade also provides safety speakers to community organizations and training for community safety programs like disaster relief.

One of the big events the brigade puts on itself is the annual first aid competition which will be held for the 25th time this year.

From first aid coverage, safety advice, community support and safety competitions; that’s a lot to lose.

“I think it would really hurt this community if we couldn’t get the volunteers out,” Coward said.

There’s a lot to gain from becoming involved with St. John Ambulance. First of all, it’s free to join and all you have to provide is pair of black pants and dress shoes and, of course, your time. All the rest is provided. All the first aid training is free.

The local brigade is divided into cadets and adult brigade. Cadets are youths ages 8-18.

For youths, it’s a great way to be challenged, have fun and provide service for the community.

It’s also valuable experience for students who need to put in volunteer time for graduation credit.

For adults who have taken some first aid training, St. John Ambulance service is a great way to put those skills to use and keep them sharp. It also provides the same personal satisfaction from giving back to your community that all volunteering provides.

“It’s a fabulous way to make a difference in the community,” said Glen Greenhill, Campbell River ambulance Station 108 unit chief, and chair of the St. John Ambulance Branch Executive Committee.

Besides giving you a “skill that is lifelong,” being a St. John Ambulance Brigade member instills in cadets a sense of personal value, discipline and deportment that carries into adulthood.

In fact, Coward said he has known cadets who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers.

“It’s a skill that a lot of people actually take with them and helps them determine the direction their life takes,” Coward said. And brigade members are recognized as trustworthy individuals who have the skills to make a difference in an emergency situation.

If you want to become a member of this highly-respected organization, contact St. John Ambulance at 250-287-4627. They meet every Tuesday at their training centre at 170 Dogwood St.