A week-long Thank You to volunteers

Noreen Hegarty |

Volunteers are the backbone of the St John frontline and never more so than in times of crisis, as evidenced during the aftermath of the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes.
Three Kaikoura Volunteer Ambulance Officers responded immediately after the earthquake, followed by several others a short while later. They collectively were either on duty or on call for many hours that and the following days.

Kaikoura Station Manager Don Wright says that, in the days and weeks after the initial shake, many Volunteer Ambulance Officers from around the South Island supported local crews as St John moved into more of a community welfare phase.

“This support from outside of Kaikoura was a great help as it took the pressure off the local Volunteers and gave them time to support their own families and deal with the after effects of the earthquake.

“I don't have any accurate data, but I know that the support we received from Volunteers working in Kaikoura from around the South Island was tremendous and very much appreciated, as were all the cards and messages we received from many St John members nationally.”

Also acknowledged were the paid staff who volunteered outside their rostered hours as, in times of emergency like this, many of them work extra hours with no expectation of extra pay or time off in lieu.

With National Volunteer Week upon us [June 18-24], St John acknowledges the talent and dedication of its 9,288 volunteers who, every day, carry out a range of services in communities throughout the country.

St John Volunteer Advisor Phil Rankin says the organisation continues to work on making volunteering enjoyable and rewarding.

“This year’s theme is ‘Live, Laugh, Share – volunteer’ and St John endorses that whole-heartedly through its Volunteer Support Group that works to improve the volunteer journey and experience.

“We’ve looked at a number of ways to improve our volunteer experiences, including improved communication, ensuring greater diversity among our people, more accessible clinical training and better fatigue management through the soon-to-be rolled out double crewing project.”

Double crewing will be enabled through the increased Government funding that was announced last month and means many who are currently volunteers will have the opportunity to apply for the extra 365 paid ambulance roles as single crewing is phased out over the coming four years.

Last year, thanks to our volunteers, St John achieved the following:

  • 6,133 community events were provided with medical services
  • 1,280 committee members supported local communities
  • 1,306 people received regular phone calls from somebody who cares (Caring Callers)
  • 3,158 clinically trained volunteers helped on the 382,325 emergency incidents that were  attended by St John Ambulances    
  • 71,780 trips were made by 702 volunteers taking people to health related appointments (Health Shuttles)
  • 791 volunteers helped patient families and loved ones in Emergency Departments and hospital wards across the country (Friends in Emergency Departments)
  • 1,169 Youth Leaders made a positive impact on the lives of our young penguins and cadets
  • 92 volunteers in governance roles helped shape the future of St John.
  • Volunteers filled 135 shifts over the 10 days of the World Masters Games, committing at least 2,200 hours to the games to cover events and provide logistical support as part of the Major Incident Support Team (MIST).

Phil Rankin says, being a charity, St John relies on volunteers to support the important work the organisation does across the board, providing the right care at the right time to patients.

“Every volunteer makes a difference to the people they encounter and we thank them for that on behalf of the communities they work in.”

Media Note: See attached feature and photo of Mangawhai family man, St John volunteer, scientist and marketing manager Andrew Mumford. His is just one of the thousands of volunteer stories St John is honoured to acknowledge.


Noreen Hegarty

St John Media & Public Relations Manager

09 526 0528 I X 8095 I 027 809 2058

E Noreen.hegarty@stjohn.org.nz

Family volunteers for many years

Volunteer Andrew Mumford, his mother Pauline, daughter Eleanor, and father Bob

At the comparatively tender age of 41, Andrew Mumford could accurately be described as a St John ‘lifer’. His father, Bob, planted the volunteer seed when Andrew was a two year-old and, to this day as acting station manager of Mangawhai, Andrew’s maintained a range of connections to St John.

He joined as an eight year-old cadet and started accompanying his dad on ambulance call-outs when he was about 15. He was a fully-fledged Bream Bay volunteer as a seventh former. He recalls one of the patient transfers he did that year as particularly poignant.

”One of my first jobs while still at school was to transfer an elderly Maori man from hospice, who was terminally ill with cancer, to die surrounded by whanau at his home.

“In Whangarei he was almost comatose with no expression but, as we approached Bream Bay, he began to open his eyes and blink. His eyes brightened and he began to blink more frequently as we got closer to his home. It was a really moving experience to be able to take that journey with him.”

Andrew says that, while that particular experience might not be the classic overtly newsworthy type of ‘rewarding event’, it speaks to what he’s always thought of as the most important aspect of his volunteer role – the reason he does the job.

“I firmly believe that you get what you give. By giving to St John as a volunteer you get the opportunity to make real differences to people’s lives. Whether it’s developing youth, providing company via Caring Caller or more acutely in the ambulance setting, it’s about being present.”

Being present for St John is a theme that runs through the Mumford family. Bob, now 71, clocked up 37 years’ service, his wife (and Andrew’s Mum) Pauline joined as a volunteer in 1995 and is now a paid part-time staffer working out of Whangarei Station, brother Cameron used to do event communications as a volunteer, while Andrew’s six year-old daughter Eleanor is a St John Penguin.

Andrew’s latest move, to Mangawhai in January last year, came after a 2008 move to Auckland and some time there as a Youth Leader and, later, Divisional Youth Manager.

“At the end of 2016 the Mangawhai station manager stepped away from the role and I was asked to temporarily act in it. I’m not sure I’m allowed to leave…!”

While Mangawhai is now home, Auckland’s where the work is. Andrew commutes to his job as marketing manager for one of Johnson & Johnson’s four companies, Ethicon, which supplies surgical instruments and sutures to hospitals and medical centres. Consequently he spends much of his paid work time supporting sales teams and surgeons.

“Whether I’m working for a salary or working as a volunteer, I’m never far away from healthcare.  I get to see the whole spectrum when it comes to the application of products supplied by the company I work for.

“As for volunteering, it’s a fantastic thing to do for communities. You’ll be challenged - physically, mentally and emotionally – and you will grow personally and professionally and gain a deeper engagement with your community.

“We’re all just ordinary people, but we get the opportunity to make an extraordinary difference.”


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