Rhonda Poulter is a St John ambulance first responder.
It’s a volunteer role she has held for almost four years and she loves it.
It gives her life balance, fitting in with her full-time work week, family life and down-time to still be active outdoors.
“I love it. I wish I’d done it sooner,” she said.
Rhonda said some shifts were busier than others but there was always something to do. Everyone worked as a team and went where they were needed.
The St John team were professional, sociable and more like a family, she said.
“They’re an amazing bunch of people in Ashburton.”
Rhonda always had an interest in St John; she has family members who are St John paramedics.
So when her now-adult children left home, she put her name forward to volunteer.
The role has been challenging and rewarding. She fits training in around her work commitments.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing, there’s a need for us,” she said, of the volunteer role.
As a qualified first responder she has attended a variety of calls from motor vehicle accidents, to bumps, falls and people suffering from chest pains or seizures. And responding to St John medical alert alarms.
It’s a good feeling to do something positive to benefit people in the community and give them a chance of survival, she said.
The training, which involves a degree of self-motivation and good time management, started with being an observer on the ambulance, and online and face-to-face training.
On station there was peer support in place for ongoing help.
It’s a high intensity role so would suit someone who is calm, can listen and take direction, Rhonda said.
“You’ve got to be 110 percent confident in what you do,” she said.
Rhonda, 51, works full-time as an administrator at Briscoes in Ashburton during the week and does shifts with St John in the weekends. But not all weekends – there is still time to get away camping with the family when needed.
It’s a flexible role with a commitment of around 24 hours a month. The hours can be tweaked to work in with volunteers.
While shifts were generally 12 hours, options included 6pm to 12 midnight, 6pm to 6am, or 8pm to 8am. The 12-hour shifts could also be split, if needed, between two people.
The hours also include working at events so it’s not all front-line ambulance work, Rhonda said.
St John attend many events including horse racing, speedway and rugby but also community events such as festivals and A&P shows which were weekend day events.
The service has paid staff working two trucks during the day but runs two trucks at night; one truck is a volunteer truck.
There’s a need for more volunteers to keep the second truck operating at night, and weekends, so town is covered, she said.
“I’m lucky I’ve got it right: family, job, volunteer,” she said.
“It makes me a better person.”
A recruitment day event for volunteers, due to take place at the Ashburton Domain this weekend, has been postponed due to alert level changes. It will be readvertised at a later date.
But recruitment evenings for volunteers to help with non-clinical roles in the Major Incident Support Team (MIST) will go ahead at the St John building on Tancred Street on March 15 and 21.
Anyone interested in attending can register by phoning 308 7132.
-By Toni Williams