Spalding St John's Ambulance Unit are helping to train volunteer vaccinators to support national effort
Volunteers from the St John’s Ambulance unit in Spalding are giving up their free time to play an important role in the fight against coronavirus.
The unit’s highly skilled members are supporting the national effort by sharing their skills to train people from all walks of life to learn how to become a volunteer vaccinator.
A police officer, leisure centre manager and a doctor were among the 16 people who were undertaking vaccination training at the Pinchbeck Road base, which has recently had some updating, on Sunday.
St John Ambulance is building on its relationship with the NHS by training up 35,000 volunteers nationally, who receive extensive training and assessment, to support clinical staff to inoculate people against Covid-19.
Manager of the Spalding unit Peter Houldershaw said: “This is the biggest thing I have been involved in during my service with St John’s Ambulance. Nationally, this is our biggest deployment since the Second World War and we are proud to be doing it.”
Staff at the Spalding unit have been supporting the training of patient advocates, which is a non-clincal role, care volunteers, who look after patients after they have had the jab, and of course the vaccinators.
People who wish to become a vaccinator must undergo a rigorous interview process to meet the strict criteria set by the NHS, which includes a criminal record check.
Unit member Elliott Darley, who works as an ambulance technician, says that the volunteer vaccinators must undergo 21 hours of training and assessments.
He said: “As part of the training we ask the candidate to roll up their sleeve and look for the shoulder ball at the top and then place two fingers underneath that before making an upside down triangle to find the right location.
“We also teach them how to clean the area, take the cap off the needle and to position it. We watch the candidate’s practice attempts and sign them off or offer additional support.”
The well equipped Pinchbeck Road unit has a range of mannequins for volunteers to practice on before they head off to the vaccination centres.
Once they have passed their course, vaccinators will have to be assessed and signed off by NHS staff at vaccination centres, like the Princess Royal Sports Arena in Wyberton.
Manjit is giving back to the NHS
A desire to thank the NHS for the care given to his late father is the reason why Manjit Manak volunteered to be a vaccinator.
Mr Manak, an optometrist from Peterborough, says his father Mahathma received fantastic care over the last few years before his death in January.
He said: “I wanted to pay something back to the NHS from our family. In the last couple of years my father has been in and out of hospital and they have been fantastic.
“They were looking for volunteer vaccinators so I thought I would give something back to the NHS.
“I am looking forward to taking part in the vaccination programme. The NHS is a remarkable service.”
Revamp for the building
The St John Ambulance base in Spalding has undergone a transformation.
The building, which was constructed in the 1970s with the help of the Van Geest family, has received a makeover in recent months.
New facilities such as an improved conference room along with redecoration and the creation of a new office are among the changes which have taken place.
The building also has an excellent hall, which has been used as a venue for work place training courses.
A legacy left by Joan Melling, who had given 60 years of service to St John Ambulance, will also be used to continue to future proof the building.
Members are also hoping that once the pandemic has passed that the building could be used by community groups for their meetings.
The Spalding St John’s Unit currently has 23 active volunteers.
It also runs cadet units, for 10 to 17-year-olds, along with a badger section, for the seven-to-10-year-olds.
Unit manager Peter Houldershaw joined St John’s as a cadet and has remained ever since. While Elliott Darley also become involved with St John as a cadet which led onto a career with the ambulance service.
- The unit has thanked Domino’s Spalding for providing food for the training sessions.