A little look inside the St John’s Ambulance Tasmania tent

ST JOHN'S: Matt Pitt, Nigel Chong, Nichola James and Kaleb Milner are St John Ambulance Tasmania volunteers. Picture: Neil Richardson
ST JOHN'S: Matt Pitt, Nigel Chong, Nichola James and Kaleb Milner are St John Ambulance Tasmania volunteers. Picture: Neil Richardson

Sitting at the centre of the Ferris Wheel of festivals and events that come-an-go in our lives is one often overlooked constant – St John Ambulance Tasmania.

However, the work doesn’t start or end at any one festival, according to St John’s state commissioner Carl Graham. 

“Most volunteers would spend a good 100 hours a year doing training and skills development,” he said.

“At an event like Falls Festival there’s at least three full days of work prior to the event, and some of that starts 12 months beforehand.”

Among the top priorities at this year’s Falls Festival for St John’s workers was reviewing how they deal with sexual assaults, according to Mr Graham. 

It is up to St John’s to ensure that everyone involved with the festival understands how to deal with this difficult issue on a practical and personal level.

“A key bit of work we reviewed is looking at our protocols and processes, and making sure there were processes for managing sexual assaults,” he said.

“We don’t just train for for trauma, but we cover things like emotional support.”

While some St John’s volunteers are training to work as health professionals, a large proportion of them are regular nine-to-five workers. 

Dealing with cases of sexual assaults, overdoses and gruesome injuries faced in the line of duty can be difficult for many to cope with. 

VOLUNTEERS: Kaleb Milner, Nigel Chong , Matt Pitt and Nichola James spend 100 hours a year updating their skills. Picture: Neil Richardson

VOLUNTEERS: Kaleb Milner, Nigel Chong , Matt Pitt and Nichola James spend 100 hours a year updating their skills. Picture: Neil Richardson

“We have a critical incident management system in place, and, for instance, last year I identified that there was a pretty nasty incident so we got help with those members almost immediately,” Launceston superintendent Darren Cooper said.

“But, it’s not always that someone will get upset about the really nasty incident – the sexual assault or overdose.

“Sometimes it’s little events that do it.”

Mr Cooper said his work provides him not only with great personal satisfaction, but also great comfort.

“I have some  children aged 19-to-21, and knowing that St John’s is there to offer support to young people in need gives me great pleasure,” he said.

“It’s very rewarding to assist a person in need.”