Loss of St. John Ambulance leaves groups scrambling

Organizations in Moncton and Fredericton are trying to figure out how to replace the St. John Ambulance service, which will no longer be providing first-aid at community events.

Service no longer providing first-aid in Moncton and Fredericton due to lack of volunteers

Organizations in Moncton and Fredericton are trying to figure out how to replace the St. John Ambulance service, which will no longer be providing first-aid at community events.

The service announced last week it is shutting down its emergency first-responder teams in the two cities due to a lack of volunteers.

The Moncton Wildcats have used St. John Ambulance volunteers since the team started 18 years ago, said Jeff Rose, the team's general manager.

Every once in a while a fan gets hit with a puck, or someone becomes sick, he said.

Now, the team is looking at a number of options, said Rose.

"We've had St. John Ambulance members that have been huge fans of the Cats over the years and we're interested in exploring if maybe some of those members would be interested in helping us out here during the season," he said.

The City of Moncton has also used St. John Ambulance volunteers in the past and has to figure out what it will do now, said  Jillian Cormier, the city's manager of marketing and event development.

"We do want to have medical personnel on site. We feel we have a responsibility to do so when we gather a large group of people, whether its downtown or at one of our events," she said.

"So we would be bringing them in just to make sure that everything is done safely."

The city has used volunteers from the Red Cross and the Canadian Ski Patrol for some events, said Cormier.

"So while we're sad that [St. John Ambulance] won't be available, we will continue to use resources that are available in the region to make sure there is safety and medical service on site at our events," she said.

Will not reverse decision

St. John Ambulance volunteers worked at events 250 days last year, according to Larry Broad, the group's chief executive officer.

In the end, there were only 34 people willing to put in the time in Moncton and 13 in Fredericton, he said.

"You know, we can find shorter-term volunteers today, we can find volunteers that will put fewer hours in, but it gets to be a huge task to try to manage that sort of thing without being able to have sustained commitment," said Broad.

"The basic root thing is the changing demographics with respect to volunteers," he said.

St. John Ambulance won't be reversing its decision even if it gets an influx of volunteers, said Broad.

He said some events, such as charity runs, might be able to enlist the help of Ambulance New Brunswick to have a paramedic on standby.

He suggests organizations also consider giving their own staff first-aid training.