St John wants bodies for a 21st birthday

St John Ambulance volunteers (l-r) Len Johnston, Cheryl Kilgour, Barbara Veling, Georgie Nicolaidis (visiting member from Wallsend), Tom Maxwell and Ron Lubow. Absent are volunteers Janet Soward, Doug Whitlen, Dr Bill Thompson, Lisa McLaughlan and Jemma Kilgour.

Bandaging blisters, soothing sunburn and calming down hysterical teenage girls these are just a few of the things Lismores Tom Maxwell does in his spare time.

Tom has been a St John Ambulance volunteer since the Lismore branch opened in 1985, which means the service turns 21 this year. In that time Toms been to just about every major event in the Northern Rivers region, including a John Farnham concert in Tweed Heads back in the 60s.

I kind of hoped I would get to see a bit of the concert because I really liked Johnny Farnham, Tom said, but I was too busy dealing with hyperventilating teenage girls.

Perhaps because they are always so busy behind-the-scenes, the presence of St John Ambulance first aid volunteers at big events like Splendour in the Grass, the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival and agricultural shows is something the public tends to take for granted.

A lot of the organisations we work for wouldnt be able to put on their shows if it wasnt for our presence, said St John Ambulance division officer, Len Johnston.

To celebrate St John Ambulances 21st birthday, why not give the ultimate gift and volunteer to be a first aid recruit. The Lismore division is crying out for new members and its a chance to give back to the community and really make a difference.

Both Tom and Len were ambulance officers with the NSW Ambulance Service when they volunteered for St John Ambulances Lismore division. Now both retired, they still put an enormous amount of energy into the organisation.

As ambos we knew the importance of knowing first aid when it comes to emergency situations, said Len. Were just passing on our experience to others.

To volunteer you must be 18-years-old, medically fit, hold a senior first aid certificate and be prepared to undergo further training. Once youre a fully fledged first aid recruit you could end up at a whole range of community and sporting events, including Lismore Cup, which is apparently a very busy day for St John Ambulance workers.

You have to walk around with a packet of band aids in your pocket for all the girls blistered feet, said Tom. I dont know how they even walk in those high heels.

To find out more about becoming a St John Ambulance first aid volunteer contact Len on 6625 2024, Tom on 6621 6698 or Barbara on 6686 5028.

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