After a three-month shutdown due to COVID-19, the St. John Ambulance Comox Valley branch has reopened for training. Photo supplied

St. John Ambulance first aid training resumes in the Comox Valley

After a three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, the St. John Ambulance Comox Valley branch has reopened for training, and their local volunteers are returning to support their community.

Businesses across the province have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, causing a number of permanent closures. When it comes to charities like St. John Ambulance, the impact is even greater, as they rely solely on community support and donations to run services.

Due to the pandemic, St. John Ambulance had to make the tough choice to close branches and pause all community service programs, including therapy dog visits and medical first responder support for community events and activities. However, during this unprecedented time, their medical first responder volunteers stepped up to provide support by volunteering in other ways – such as at Canadian Blood Service clinics, the Topaz Park camp for the homeless in Victoria as well as helping support the development of an alternate care centre at the BC Convention Centre.

As we continue to flatten the curve and cautiously enter phase 3, the charity’s dedicated volunteers are making a safe comeback. Their charitable community service programs include the therapy dog, medical first responder, and youth program. All volunteers are committed to returning to community service and will ensure they follow all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines to keep themselves and those around them safe while they lend a hand (or paw).

“Our volunteers have been preparing for the new reality, and all look forward to facilitating the restart of activities in our communities and continuing to do what we do best: helping people when they need it,” said Ross Nichols, Vancouver Island area commissioner for St. John Ambulance BC & Yukon.

To request the services of St. John Ambulance volunteers, whether it’s a visit from therapy dogs or trained medical first responders providing first aid for an event, contact bcy.volunteer@sja.ca for consideration.

Outside of their volunteer work, the St. John Ambulance Comox Valley branch, located in Courtenay, has also resumed their first aid training. The branch has implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 plan that follows WorkSafeBC guidelines, and those from the Provincial Medical Officer to ensure the safety of all students, instructors, and staff members.

Protocols in place include taking a self-declaration from students and staff upon arrival, requiring students to bring their own pocket mask and non-surgical masks to courses, implementing physical distancing measures, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of all areas.

Registration is open with up to 10 courses available, including Standard First Aid with CPR and AED use, Emergency First Aid for Community or Industry, and Occupational First Aid.

“Getting first aid and CPR trained is an extremely important action to take. Training gives you the confidence to act fast during a variety of emergencies and most importantly, it gives you the skills to possibly save a life,” said Karen MacPherson, CEO of St. John Ambulance BC & Yukon.

Anyone can register for training by visiting sja.ca, or by contacting the St. John Ambulance customer care centre at 1-866-321-2651 or bcy.customerservice@sja.ca. All proceeds from training and product sales directly funds St. John Ambulance’s charitable community service programs.

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