St John Ambulance & Rescue Service (SJARS) is launching a new ‘St John Lifesavers’ initiative in Alderney to support the island’s ambulance service and the community of Alderney.

St John Lifesavers are volunteers who will be trained as Community First Responders, Volunteer Ambulance Reserve and/or Guardians of Alderney’s Public Access Defibrillators.

Community First Responders (CFRs) are trained and equipped to provide life-saving skills in the minutes before the ambulance arrives. Evidence suggests that early recognition of cardiac arrest, early alert of the ambulance, early CPR and early use of an AED can all contribute to improving a patient’s chances of survival. The St John Lifesavers scheme means that when someone dials 999 for a patient in cardiac arrest, or with another life-threatening medical emergency, a team of trained volunteer first responders will be alerted. If they are nearby, they can respond to provide immediate care while the ambulance is en-route.

Volunteer Ambulance Reserves provide extra support and added resilience in major incidents, during times of high demand and in adverse weather conditions. They are trained in how to set up the major incident equipment, assist with transport, logistic and basic first aid.

Guardians of the Public Access Defibrillators will carry out regular checks and routine maintenance of Alderney’s Public Access Defibrillators to ensure they are in working order and ready to be used in an emergency.

SJARS Head of Quality and Patient Safety, Aimee Lihou said: “St John Lifesavers is a great opportunity for islanders to make a difference when it really matters. There is a long tradition of people in Alderney volunteering to support their community in a number of ways, and this scheme will help meet the unique needs of the island and provide additional resilience for the ambulance service.

“These are unpaid roles, but volunteers will gain valuable life skills and will be giving back to their community. St John will provide training and education, equipment, support and uniforms.

“Although distances are relatively small in Alderney, having a trained volunteer with the right equipment available to give immediate care in the minutes before the ambulance arrives can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. The Community First Responder scheme in Guernsey has proved hugely beneficial so we will be building on the Guernsey experience and adapting the scheme for Alderney. Likewise, the Volunteer Ambulance Reserve have made a huge contribution to supporting the ambulance service, as we witnessed during  the Covid-19 pandemic.”

St John Ambulance and Rescue Service provides the ambulance service in Alderney on behalf of the States of Alderney. The Alderney service is a satellite station of the Guernsey organisation, operating under the same clinical governance framework, and with ongoing support, leadership and oversight provided by senior staff in Guernsey.The service employs a small team of full-time and part-time staff who are on call 24/7 on a rota basis. The full time Alderney ambulance crew are trained and qualified to a nationally recognised level in patient care and emergency driving.

Islanders have the opportunity to find out more about the St John Lifesaver scheme and register their interest at the Health & Social Care Open Day at the Mignot Memorial Hospital on Saturday 17th between 10:00 am and 4.00pm.

An assessment day is scheduled to take place in Alderney on Saturday 9th September, where applicants will be assessed on teamwork, communication and physical fitness.

(Photos: Simulation and training excercise in Alderney)

Posted: June 14, 2023