Williams St John Ambulance sub-centre in dire need of volunteers to keep the life-saving service running

Headshot of Isabel Vieira
Isabel VieiraNarrogin Observer
St John Ambulance volunteers Rachel Duff and Rennae Martin
Camera IconSt John Ambulance volunteers Rachel Duff and Rennae Martin Credit: St John Ambulance

The St John Ambulance sub-centre in Williams is calling for people to volunteer — even just “one day per month” — to help keep the life-saving service running around the clock.

The sub-centre has been struggling to recruit new volunteers, especially emergency medicine responders to drive ambulances, in order to fill its rosters.

Chairman Neville Steicke said there was a misconception about the amount of time people needed to volunteer.

The local volunteers collectively respond to about 130 jobs per year, an average of about two or three call-outs each week.

The Great Southern Police District is coming off its worst road toll in five years after 27 people died on the region’s roads in 2021.

St John Ambulance volunteers were among the first emergency services personnel to arrive at the scene of many of those major crashes.

However Mr Steicke said despite what people thought, most of the calls they responded to were not road crashes or major incidents.

“Most of the jobs that we go to don’t require lights and sirens,” he said.

“When people get older a lot of the time they don’t have any family or friends around them so when they get to a point when they need help they call the ambulance.

“To go and help those people and see the look on their face — they just relax when we walk in, it can be one of the most rewarding things.

“You are actually helping someone who sometimes for nothing else just wants someone to hold their hand.”

St John have a wellbeing and support department that sends out welfare crews or calls volunteers to check in with them after major crashes or events.

St John Ambulance volunteers Rennae Martin and Rachel Duff
Camera IconSt John Ambulance volunteers Rennae Martin and Rachel Duff Credit: St John Ambulance

“For 20 years I don’t know of anyone that has ever pulled out because of a single job,” Mr Steicke said.

“Sometimes there are cumulative affects over years and years and some sub-centres are worse than others given the nature of the work and where they are located.

“(The support department) normally rings within 36 hours after an event, because that is the critical period, just to do a check-up.

“We do a fair bit of internal self-support as well, it’s like a family here.”

The Williams community relies heavily on the volunteer-run ambulance service as the closest hospital is the Narrogin Health Service, about 30km away.

“The biggest thing in regional WA is that if there is no ambulance service in the town, then you’ve got to wait for an ambulance to come from a neighbouring facility,’” Mr Steicke said.

“Sometimes we come across to Narrogin and we also go across to Boddington and that’s a 30-minute drive.

“But Boddington has a hospital — we don’t have a hospital — so you are relying on local people to run the ambulance to service the community.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails