By Molly Taylor
A SENSE of helplessness while at the scene of a car accident first prompted long-standing St John SA serviceman Ross Parkinson OAM to start his journey with the humanitarian organisation over four decades ago.
Mr Parkinson was recently awarded for his selfless dedication, receiving a St John Ambulance SA Award for 45 years of dedication and commitment.
Each year St John Ambulance SA recognises and celebrates the achievements and commitments of volunteers and staff through its annual award presentation.
The official award ceremony was unable to go ahead in usual format this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Mr Parkinson said he had not considered volunteering until a vehicle collided with a power pole outside of his Bordertown home around 45 years ago.
“It was in the middle of the night and a car hit a stobie pole with around four young people in it,” he said.
“I heard the bang and went out to see. I raised the alarm and informed police of what had happened.
“While I stood out the front and waited, I thought it was a bit ordinary as the people in the car were probably injured and needed help.”
As he did not have first-aid training, Mr Parkinson said he felt helpless as he watched.
Shortly after, Mr Parkinson approached St John Ambulance SA Bordertown and began first aid training, kick-starting his career.
“I have maintained my involvement with St John right the way through, but volunteering led me into my career,” he said.
“I was originally a regional training officer, but was posted down to Millicent as a superintendent and in 1986 I was posted to Mount Gambier as the senior superintendent. I then became regional superintendent in charge of the South East and over time also the Riverland.
“I have been involved at a rather intense level, and would you believe my whole family also became involved too.”
Mr Parkinson, who is also a member of the Order of St John, said his wife Sue volunteered as an ambulance officer for 13 years and at some times they would crew together.
“We would charge off in the middle of the night in our uniforms,” he said.
“St John is a tremendous organisation which has been privilege to be part of.”
Mr Parkinson said given he was ageing, he was still involved but primarily to support the Mount Gambier St John Cadet Division.
“We have a very healthy cadet division here of around 25 to 30 young people and they are fabulously talented in their black and white uniforms,” he said.
“It is always wonderful to see them all stepping up to the challenge, it gives me great satisfaction to be part of their journey.”