St John Ambulance – More than Meets the Eye [interview transcript]


Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Darryl Clare
Guest Bio: Darryl Clare is the Business Development Manager for St John Ambulance (Qld), overseeing the management of corporate and public training throughout Queensland in First Aid, Health and Safety and Advanced level clinical skills training. He holds an extensive leadership background in the management of volunteers whom provide vital healthcare and first aid services to members of public. Darryl’s professional objective is to facilitate and deliver excellence in education and leadership through lifelong learning.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know more about the charitable organization St John Ambulance Australia. Darryl Clare is here with us today to talk about their wide range of products and services. In Queensland, they have been active for more than 129 years, but internationally they are part of an organisation with a long and honourable history. They provide industry leading first aid training, quality first aid kits and products for home and industry, first aid services at public events and in times of disaster, community services and support to those suffering from eye disease through Australian and international ophthalmic programs.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is Darryl Clare of St. John’s Queensland. Now St. John’s is one of the organizations that as someone who grew up in the Queensland, I always saw people in St. John’s Ambulances around the exhibition, the shows, and footballs and fights and events but I never quite understood what it is they do and where they fit into the scheme of things. So welcome to Health Professional Radio Darryl and can you tell us what it is that St. John Ambulance Australia does?

Darryl Clare: Thank you and it’s great to have the opportunity to tell you that. And St. John is a quite a big organization these days and has a very diverse range of things that we are doing and in each state and territory, it might be a little bit different. So the thing that you we’re talking about before are volunteers doing events and is one of the things we still do everywhere. But for example, in Queensland we’re a certainly a bit more diverse from the training front too apart from just standard first aid courses these days. We do advance courses, we do qualifications in the health training package, things like the certificate II, III and IV in health – our highest quality certificate for healthcare ambulance. We’ve run advance life support courses for healthcare practitioners, we often do a whole wide range of selling their products and first aid kits and restocking standard first aid kits. So we also have approved TGA room for buildings’ specialized kitchen and drug licenses up to … medications. One of our biggest things we do in that range the things we reach doc “The Royal Flying Doctors” their best kits for Queensland and Northern territory and that’s a fairly significant movement of medications about 150,000 drug transactions a year.

W: Wow that’s a lot broader scale of activity than I have imagined with seeing volunteers around … Tell me about the training, explain that to us.

D: Yup. Training front is I guess the basic level stuff like just CPR and provide their status quotes now and it’s something that changes all the time with accreditation. The name, years ago if you remember, Senior First Aid – now it’s Provide First Aid. We then move up into some high status practice like advance first aid and workplace or occupational first aid; specialist courses like promote first aid for people that are on the bush and then into things like our qualification certificate to emergency services first response which is someone basically a first responder; certificate free basic healthcare which is moving into for basic level medic and certificate for health care in ambulance which is a fairly significant qualification. It goes right through or you know high level patient assessment, managing patients and basic of this people like industrial medics that might work in mine sites and things like. The beauty of that course security now have an articulation agreement into central Queensland Universities paramedical science degree with that so it’s quite exciting.

W: I see. So that actually leads onto tertiary qualification?

D: Yeah. It’s something we wanted to really achieve, offered a different pathway. It’s great for some of our people too who might have got the education that they needed to get in for normal ways, that they can work through this way and imagine really job ready when they get there too which is good.

W: Now I see on your website some astonishing figures like 212,000 hours of voluntary first aid and community services and a thousand first aid volunteers. Talk about the volunteering side of it for me.

D: Yeah, the volunteering side is big and it’s something that we’re very proud of. Apart from our corporate role, I’ve worked for several years in the volunteer role as well and I love doing it. We’ll have just tomorrow, we’ll probably have several hundred people across Queensland for example doing Anzac day event. Our volunteers start off with just basic first aid, we then have a level called first responder which have a certificate to emergency serve to first response. They deliver reasonable quality care, very good care. And they have a few basic medications that they can even administer adrenaline injection and… for pain management. Our next level up is our advance responders and they have a certificate free basic healthcare. They’re very quiet skilled people in their roles and they assist everywhere. Duties we do all over the place from concerts, you may see us there too as I’ve said tomorrow Anzac day. They do a lot of great work and not just in that first aid in events but also into disaster relief for example flood recently, cyclone Yasi and the floods in 2010, 2011. We did probably nearly a years’ worth of allies and treatment in that short space of those events because there’s so many people on the ground. So the great resource into a lot of great work in the community.

W: Now how do people become volunteers?

D: They just have to contact us, they could come through the website. They can give us a call. What we do is we work out their best location where it’s gonna suite them both from a geographical perspective but also it’s gonna be best life for them if they have steady commitment and things like that. And then they can join one of our divisions. Once there in one of our volunteer division, the division then take over and does all the training, gets them ready, uniforms them and can gets it out there. It’s also really great these days for a lot of healthcare professional students who because of our sheer numbers now in the system, they can navigate as much hands on time that they need and a lot of students join for volunteers to get that experience to that hands on work.

W: Now Darryl what’s the age range for that, you mentioned students? How young has this this gone, how old does this go?

D: We had a “youth cadet section” which are for quite young and … but then we, the cadet range goes up into our adult. So we have people, I guess from about 10 year old up until 18 and they move into our adult areas. And so all through there, there are opportunities that they can do, qualification and get lots of good first aid experience and apart of the healthcare qualifications and trainings we do, our people also do training in management. They do the certification for our front line management. Some of them go to the certificate foreign training assessments so they can actually deliver first aid training back to the rest of the people in their divisions.

W: Right. Now you mentioned the website. If we mention the website, we really should get the address. What’s the address for your website?

D: Yes,

W: And that’s the best way for they’re be able to get in touch?

D: Yeah the website or they can ring us our number is 1-300-360-455.

W: Lovely. Now what’s the biggest misconception about St. John’s Ambulance that drives you nuts and keeps you awake at night?

D: There are a few things but I guess one of the things is that we’re considered “just first aid.” Now we do first aid but we actually do a whole other types of things commercially as well. We do to ride to paramedic nurses and doctors invite our volunteer role. And we also have paid healthcare professionals. We have just finished one of our biggest project where we’re doing the support to the policy in gas line, all the medical support from … that encompass three medical centers which I think it was about 8 to 10 nurses and up to 20 paramedics and 10 ambulances running over about 600 kilometers. So we have a fairly wide scope of what we can deliver and as I said before, things like the Royal Flying Doctors services medical check, there’s a wide scope of things that we do. People just don’t see and understand that we’re more than just first aid.

W: I certainly fall into that category myself, I’m guilty as charged. Now you’re not for profit organization but you do commercial work, is that right?

D: Yeah and the commercial work that we do funds our charity side. Now I mean most people think as the charity side as simply the volunteers throughout the black and white. So some of the greens scale doing the first aid duties but we actually have a whole route of other volunteer duties as well. Our community services area has very big project as well. They do transport which is that sort of transport between ambulance transport and people just getting to doctor’s appointments and things like that. We also have a hospital visitation service where people who are not getting visited in that we’ve got in certain hospitals our volunteers are just giving some friendship and we have a service called “silver cord” which is volunteers who everyday will make phone calls to people who are again not getting any contact and sometimes they’re just friendship type calls and over time security calls where they’re ringing to make sure these people are okay. And we’ve had some lives saved with those programs which is really great but also it’s just a lot of people who might be sitting in the hospital alone just getting some company and some visits, those sort of things. We also support some activities in the Jerusalem Eye hospital we sort of back their beginnings so we fund to get doctors and nurses over there and programs in Timor and Northern Territory where our ophthalmic part of the organization is sending doctors and nurses to help where there’s lots of eye disease.

W: Darryl, fascinating to talk to you about the St. John’s Organization and the much wider scope of activity than I have imagined. We’ll have a transcript of this interview on our website at and an audio archive over up there as well. My name is Wayne Bucklar. We’ve been chatting with Darryl Clare, an expert in first aid training and products for St. John’s Ambulance Queensland.

D: Thank you very much. It’s been great.

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