Using first aid skills to help others in need is the heart of what St. John Ambulance is.
Every single one of our uniformed members is a volunteer who has chosen to give back to their community by studying and training hard to learn advanced first aid skills, and then taken those skills out into the community to help others.
Being a volunteer with us isn’t like a lot of other volunteer opportunities. Developing your pre-hospital medical skills requires a long-term commitment – months to years, generally – and we’re looking for people who appreciate that good skills take hard work, and time, to learn.
We ask for your time and dedication. If you can provide that, we’ll provide the training, field experience, and mentorship to help you develop skills that will change your – and your patient’s – life.
What does St. John Ambulance – Division 176 do?
Around Greater Victoria, Division 176 provides first aid services at public events – Everything from church fund-raisers, and community association fun-runs, to city-wide marathons and large festivals.
We also run an ongoing series of twice-weekly street clinics, providing first aid outreach services to Victoria’s less-fortunate citizens.
Our members attend weekly training sessions that are taught by paramedics, nurses, doctors, and other subject-matter experts. Training covers everything from basic first aid skills to mass casualty incidents, pathophysiology, pharmacology, kinesiology and beyond.
(If you’re looking to take a first aid course, or buy first aid kits or supplies head here. Every dollar you spend getting your first aid training at our branches goes to help support our community service operations.)
What will you actually do as a St. John Ambulance volunteer?
Fundamentally our volunteers do two things — training, and community service.
As a St. John Ambulance volunteer we expect you to develop and maintain your first aid skills through ongoing certification and regular training. That means getting through a handful of initial certifications in your first six to eight months with us, and also attending weekly training nights on Monday evenings.
Our intake training for new recruits is comprised of several modules that cover basic skills, radio communication, and of course, medical first response. We also have optional driving and bike-squad certification courses that members can apply to participate in.
Weekly training usually takes the format of an hour or so of lecture from a paramedic, nurse, doctor, or other medical professional, followed by an hour of supervised simulation time, where you’ll get to apply the skills you just learned. There are plenty of experienced people around, and we take pride in providing mentorship and support to our new members.
As your skills improve, you’ll start signing up to go out to public events with us, where you’ll serve as a uniformed Medical First Responder and provide front-line first aid to members of the public.
What is it like doing event first aid?
Being a front-line Medical First Responder means you’ll fill a variety of roles as part of a team providing first aid at public events.
Sometimes that means just you and a partner, but at major events you’ll work as part of a larger group comprised of multiple tents, foot patrol teams, vehicles, and bike squads. Often you’ll be working with other public safety agencies, including police and ambulance service personnel, as well as event staff.
While you’re on duty you’ll very often be the first point of contact for people who are injured or in medical distress.
You’ll help people. You’ll do everything from putting a band-aid on a 6 year-old with a scraped knee to resuscitating an overdose, to stabilizing a broken limb… in a mosh pit. You’ll be the first person on-scene for everything from bee stings to major medical emergencies.
You’ll find out what it really means to have the skill, and be in the right place, to help someone who needs it, and you’ll go home at the end of the day knowing that you provided care that matters.
You’ll actually make a difference.
Will you have long days? Sometimes. Duty deployments can be as short as a couple of hours, and as long as a whole day.
Will you save the world? Well, maybe not the whole world… But one person at a time is a good start, right?
Will it make you a better person? We can’t promise anything, but the first time a patient says “Thank you” and really means it, will stick with you for the rest of your life.
What we expect from you:
- A strong desire to learn, help others, and serve your community.
- About 200 hours of volunteer time in your first year, as you accrue field-experience and we get you trained in all the fundamentals.
- A minimum of 60 hours of volunteer time each year after that. The majority of our members contribute substantially more than this minimum.
- Regular participation in our first aid coverage of events.
- Regular attendance at weekly training sessions on Monday evenings to keep your skills at a high level.
- Annual recertification in Basic Life Support CPR. (We provide CPR recertification for free to our members.)
- Maturity, punctuality, reliability, and professionalism.
Do you need First Aid training to volunteer?
We want you to have the basics before you sign up. You’ll need two things:
- A current Standard First Aid certificate (or higher)
- A CPR Level C, or Basic Life Support CPR certificate issued within the past 12 months
The fine print:
You have to be 18 years of age or older to volunteer with us. You’ll also be required to undergo a vulnerable sector criminal record check during the application process.
And yes, we know your CPR certification might be valid for longer than twelve months. Our members have to renew their CPR training every 12 months, so that’s the standard we expect from you, too.)
What happens after you apply?
Signing up as a St. John Ambulance volunteer is a bit like applying for a job. You can start by hitting the Apply to Volunteer button below. Once you’ve sent us your application, you can expect to hear back from us within a couple of weeks to invite you to a training night so we can meet you. We’ll also discuss setting up an in-person interview, and guide you through getting a vulnerable sector criminal record check completed.
If you’re successful through your interview and record check you’ll be invited to begin joining us at our regular training nights, and take part in a 20 hour Basic Skills Training (BST) weekend, over a Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. With your BST completed you’ll be able to join us at public events, as a mentee, with a minimum of two senior members providing you support and guidance.
As you get some experience, we’ll ask you to participate in skills evaluations after you’ve completed both 3, and 6 months of service. These help us make sure your learning and skills are on-track, and help you figure out where to focus your learning energy.
As you work on your skills, we’ll also have a few mandatory courses we’ll need to get you through:
- Radio Communications – 6 hours – You’ll learn the basics of how both analog and digital portable radio systems work, and how to use them effectively. (Yes, you’ll learn the phonetic alphabet, too…)
- Respect in the Organization – 4 hours – Our internal, mandatory, anti-harassment training. We like our volunteers a lot, and want to make sure everyone has a safe and respectful environment to work in.
- Medical First Responder – 40 hours – The MFR is a nationally recognized St. John Ambulance training program that provides students with first aid skills to deal with trauma and medical emergencies, as well as minor wound care, and a host of other skills.
- Basic Life Support CPR – 6 hours – We require all our members to have a BLS-CPR certification within the past 12 months, or at least once per calendar year. If yours expires, we’ll put you through a recertification with us.
After you complete six months of service, your skills check-ins, and your MFR, you’ll be eligible for for full membership with Division 176. As you continue your volunteer time with St. John Ambulance, we’ll have a few additional opportunities to offer you:
- Mobile Post Orientation Program – 16 hours – Our vehicles serve as first aid posts – this training will run you through extensive orientation of our vehicles, and includes a full day of driver training on a cone course, as well as a road test.
- Bike Squad – Medical First Responder – 16 hours – At many public events we deploy bicycle first responders. They’re able to get to many places better than vehicles and faster than foot patrols. The Bikes MFR course teaches you the skills you need to work on a bike in a crowd, and includes a day of field practice and evaluation.
- Brigade Officer Training – St. John Ambulance uses a paramilitary rank system. As you progress through the organization and earn promotion, you’ll have opportunities to participate in progressive levels of leadership training.
If you like challenges, and think you’d be a good fit, take the next step…
If you are under 18 years of old, please consider our Youth (cadet) program.
If you have fur, and four legs, our Therapy Dog program might be a good fit. Have your human email our Therapy Dog Program at VictoriaTDP@sjabcy.ca for more information.