First-aiders go it alone in Warwick
AN acrimonious split with the St John Ambulance Service in Warwick has led to most volunteers in the town breaking away from the national charity and forcusing on their own local association to offer first aid at district events.
At Christmas 23 former members of St John - who were also joint members of the Warwick Ambulance Association - resigned because they felt the two ambulances they had helped fund were too often being used as back-up for the NHS.
Mike Cornes, who had been a joint member of both the Warwick Ambulance Association and St John for 25 years, said: “At the end of the day those of us who resigned our joint membership did so because we felt this wasn’t the organisation we had joined.
“The ambulances we had helped fund were being used in other parts of the region to transfer non-emergency patients to hospital as back-up for the full-time emergency services.”
Keith Hunter, regional director of St John Ambulance in the West Midlands, accepts that part of the reason for the mass resignation was the Patient Transfer Service - which earned much-needed funds for the charity.
This was a practice that had been happening for the past 12 years in other parts of the region but was new to Warwick. Patient transfers usually occur in doctors’ surgery or during a home visit when it is diagnosed that a person needs to be admitted to hospital within the next four hours.
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Ambulance Service stressed that full-time St John staff - who are at technician-grade and below” were not offering an emergency service.
He said: “This split between the two organisations has had no effect on West Midlands Ambulance Service - St John are not offering a 999 response service.”
He explained that the 24-hour emergency service can predict peak periods of demand and so often pre-book full-time St John personnel to offer back-up for patient transfers.
Although if a crew happened to be operating nearest to the location of a life-threatening emergency call, they would be asked to respond.
On Monday the breakaway paramedics applied to Warwick town council for a grant of £1,500 towards the cost of 30 new uniforms they have bought to identify them when covering local events.
Town councillors were sympathetic but deferred making a decision pending further investigation of registration and third-party insurance as the association switches from its former role, backing up St John, to offering training and first aid coverage at events in its own right.
At the St John’s regional offices in Birmingham, Mr Hunter said: “We are a first aid charity whose vision is to ensure no-one suffers from a lack of first aid.
“As an organisation we have recently changed to a regional structure so that resources can be better shared and we can help more people where we can be the difference between life and death.
“Unfortunately, in Warwick, some volunteers have decided they no longer wish to be part of St John Ambulance. We’re sorry that they felt they couldn’t continue with us and we thank them for the time they gave.
“We always welcome new volunteers so if anyone is interested in joining them please contact us.”
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Weather for Warwick
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North