News Article

Volunteering with the KCL St John Ambulance Society

The St John Ambulance Society at King’s attracts people from all different backgrounds. Some are the medical students you would expect to see in a first aid society, while others are humanities students who never so much as considered a role in healthcare. Some have lived in the UK all their lives, while others hail from a diverse range of countries and only just arrived in London. One key motivation unites all our members, however – the desire to help others.

Being an arts student myself – and one who barely passed high school biology, for that matter – joining this society was the furthest thing from my mind when I first arrived in London. Having now been a member for over a year and a half, and as the society’s current Logistics Lead, I can confidently say it is one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at King’s. I have learned invaluable skills both within the society and at larger St John-organised training events - skills which could someday literally mean the difference between life and death.

In a 2018 report, the British Heart Foundation stated that almost one in three UK adults would be unlikely to attempt CPR in the case of a cardiac arrest. CPR – and in turn, the use of a defibrillator – can increase a patient’s chance of survival by more than five times what it would be otherwise. The more people who have these skills, the better, and I feel incredibly privileged to have learned from some of the kindest volunteers and healthcare professionals out there.

All these facts have been especially true throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite being thrown out of our usual training space and scattered around the world, our society invented new ways to provide the outstanding training and volunteering support we are known for. When St John announced it would be collaborating with the NHS to help administer Covid-19 vaccinations, we were some of the first to jump at the opportunity. Eashan, one of our newest committee members, told me he can’t wait to use the techniques he’s learned to help others. With my own vaccination training scheduled for the weekend after next, I can only echo his sentiment.

Joana, one of our committee members, on shift.

The ways in which we’ve strived to aid our communities during the pandemic have not been constrained to vaccination shifts, either. Dani, our Unit Manager, has been working as an ambulance crew member in Northern Ireland. While not all her calls go according to plan – herself and a crewmate once had to half-break into a potential patient’s house in the middle of nowhere when their pendant alarm went off, only to find them perfectly alright and scared stiff of two brightly-dressed home invaders – her work actively saves lives, and we couldn’t be prouder of her. Joana, another new committee member, told me that she’s proudest of her time spent assisting both patients and healthcare professionals in A&E, saying it provides her with a sense of purpose and makes her feel good knowing she’s helped to look after her patients. 

Whoever you are and whatever experience you have in medicine, the KCL St John Ambulance Society is a place where you will be able to learn at your own pace, backed up by some of the kindest volunteers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. To find out more about joining us, visit our LinkTree or get in touch via kcl@sja.org.uk.