Posted on January 28, 2016 at 10 : 30 am
Saving lives at home, at work and at play
Crossing the front door of Cornwall’s St. John Ambulance’s office is like entering a sort of community hall of fame.
Multiple awards are located on nearly every wall of the reception area. Next to them are older pictures of volunteers, all sporting a wide smile while giving some of their time.
Crossing a short hallway leads to the non-profit organization’s conference room. Again, awards plaster the walls, proving just how respected and needed the St. John Ambulance truly is in Cornwall.
“We recently celebrated our 75th anniversary in the city,” explains board member Scott Johnston, while he takes off his heavy winter coat. “We provide community services during gatherings.”
In then comes Michele Brunette, sporting a Tim Horton’s coffee cup in one hand. The chair of the board of directors, a well-spoken and outgoing woman, is quick to take a seat and explain just how the organization works.
“We protect the public by being on site,” she says.”We go to hockey games, polar dips and bigger gatherings.”
The organization has countless first-aid volunteers who are trained on a weekly basis to tackle most medical needs. “They are very hard working and some are the recipient of life saving awards.”
In total, two Mobile First Aid Post, in essence ambulances, are used by the St. John Ambulance. “We can’t call them ambulances but they sure look like them,” explains Brunette. “In them is everything that is needed to assist the volunteers in treating citizens.”
In addition to the first aid services they freely offer to events, the organization is also home to several therapy dogs. “We have 18 owners who stepped forward and volunteered their dog to help,” says Johnston. “We make sure to evaluate every dog and make sure they are capable of playing the role of a therapeutic canine. It takes about half a day.”
The owners then travel to several nursing homes in the region on a weekly basis. “Some residents miss the dogs more than the volunteers,” explains a laughing Brunette.
But for volunteers, making the trek from Cornwall to Alexandria can be quite time consuming. “I recently spoke to one of our volunteers and she said she was very tired,” says the chair. “We cannot thank them enough for what they do. They are wonderful.”
One of the organization’s volunteer has also made it a point to visit the St. Lawrence College around exam times or Christmas. “Some kids don’t go back to their home at Christmas time, so she goes there with her dog,” says Johnston. “It can only take about 10 to 20 minutes and you can see that the students feel a lot better. They are more relaxed.”
Read the whole article in this week's edition of The Cornwall Journal, hitting shelves on January 20.