As we mark National Volunteer Week, I would like to pay tribute to the vital contribution our own volunteers provide to NSW Ambulance and to our patients.
More than 340 Community First Responders and Volunteer Ambulance Officers across 53 units contribute personal effort, time and skill to enable us to extend the availability of services to those in isolated communities.
As an indication of the value our volunteers bring to NSW Ambulance, between July 2015 and March 2016 alone they responded to 1263 medical emergencies.
This is further boosted by the support provided by our volunteer chaplains, grievance contact officers and peer support officers.
I think it is extremely important that we appreciate the commitment and challenge of being a volunteer. The time volunteers spend away from their families and the efforts of not just these individuals but the contribution of family and friends to facilitate volunteering is often understated.
The partnerships across the emergency services in the successful operation of our Volunteer and CFR program is also something to be recognised.
A fact not readily known is that I started my career as a volunteer ambulance officer with the Tasmanian Ambulance Service. The volunteer partnerships are stronger here than in many other places across the country and this is a tribute to the work of small, local communities banding together to look out for each other in difficult times.
So often we find that our CFR volunteers are joint members of other emergency service agencies, providing complete coverage in the name of community.
In some cases, multiple members of the same family are involved, forming the backbone of their local units.
Feedback from the following three volunteers as to why they give so much of their time is testament to their spirit:
- “I get a bit of an adrenalin rush when we’re called out because I’m helping my community. I love it all. I feel quite wonderful about myself whenever I’m called to help.”
- “I enjoy helping others and this is a perfect way to do so. It also shows my children that it's a good thing to help out others and gives us all a sense of community.”
- “Working in the community with people you know, you want to be able to help if you can. And that’s the way we all think. While we can’t stop bad things happening to people, we can be there to help when they do.”
And this from a paramedic supported by Volunteers and CFRs: ““They’re a great group of people and I, as a single responder, rely on their back-up and support. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they are fabulous. We’re very proud and very lucky in the community to have their back-up.”
At the start of National Volunteer week I would also like to recognise the work and effort of our Clinical Training Officers and the paramedics and staff who provide support to our volunteers. Many of these people are not remunerated for this either, but they believe passionately in supporting our volunteers.
Volunteers respond to a wide range of incidents including car collisions, cardiac arrests, flood and bushfire support and aircraft incidents.
These jobs are challenging and require dedication, professionalism and devotion and we recognise the time volunteers dedicate to their role.
NSW Ambulance volunteers should be proud of the work they do, their dedication, time and selfless acts of humanity in caring for others.
On behalf of NSW Ambulance, I would like to thank all our volunteers for the support they provide paramedics, the treatment they provide patients and most of all for devoting their energy to such challenging work.
To all our valuable volunteers, we say thank you.