By Raquel Mustillo
THE region’s St John Ambulance volunteers will be better equipped to provide onsite training and patient transport during major events and emergencies with the launch of the new St John Mount Gambier Division Centre.
After three years of searching for a premises and working with local tradespeople and builders to refurbish the 3 Anthony Street site, the dual-purpose facility is now fully operational.
St John SA Limestone Coast division officer administrating command Joseph O’Connor welcomed the new facility, saying it had been a challenge to undertake training and response tasks without a permanent site.
“It is exciting to have the fleet out the back and have the training centre under the same roof,” he said.
“Previously, we were running out of a shed and our other equipment was stored elsewhere.
“Now it is really smooth as we can go to the one centre, grab whatever we need and then go.
“The commercial team can come into an office and conduct administrative duties, training and sales both on and off the site and stock supplies here instead of their house.”
Mr O’Connor said the new facility allowed the volunteer organisation to continue to provide first aid training and products, first aid at events, youth development and social inclusion programs across the region.
“The Limestone Coast division provides many event health service coverage in the lower South East, including the Mount Gambier show, the Christmas pageant, Generations In Jazz and we also assist with state events such as the Royal Adelaide Show and Schoolies,” he said.
“Our team also has a bushfire response group which recently attended the Lucindale Blackford fire and assisted the CFS and other emergency services and the community in the relief centres at the staging grounds.
“The cadets are pretty much the backbone of St Johns because they are the future leaders… and the facility will be their new home.
“Cadets can come here for a few hours after school, hang out with everyone they know and learn something they have an interest in.
“Over the last three years we have built so many memories at the last facility, but now it’s time to start making memories here.”
At the official launch held last week, St John Ambulance SA chief executive Mark Groote said the organisation was delighted to have a physical presence in the region.
“This is the first opening of a regional centre we have had in many, many years,” he said.
“I have been told it has taken us about three years to find the right place and it has been a long journey for the team to make sure we get a space that is good, is in the right location and with the density we need.
“Everyone should be really proud of what we have here as a building.
“It is a place volunteers can finally call their own and also somewhere for our first aid students to come and do training.”
Mr Groote hoped the new centre would encourage individuals to volunteer with St John and further support the dedicated group of adult volunteers and cadets.