Tony Bowater and Jock Stewart getting ready for the night shift. Click to enlarge.
St John's is one of those organisations you really don't wish to have to deal with, but when the need arises you are so glad to have them turn up.
They have been a backbone of our community in times of need since 1885, when lives were vastly different to how they are now, but the reality is still very much the same.
When an accident happens and someone is injured who do you call?
What most people do not realise is that the modern Order of St John's is a charitable organisation, relying on the goodwill of the community to support it. In today's fast paced, hectic and financially complex world this means charities such as St John's have to work really hard to make some noise and attract sponsorship and funding.
As you can imagine the business of running a comprehensive emergency response capacity is hugely expensive.
At the end of August we joined some of the other business leaders for the First Response Challenge briefing. St John had invited this group of eight together to challenge them to ride along one by one on an average night shift with one of their First Response team, to see first hand what the organisation did for our community.
We quickly discovered one of the major complexities faced by the local St John is that our Nelson / Tasman region is the largest geographical one in the country, and the distances that need to be covered by a small team are vast. What the St John crew find when they turn up to a callout also varies a large degree as they are often the first response on the scene of many incidents, accidents and medical emergencies. Not put off by this the business leaders set about getting up to speed with what was required of them as "official observers" in a sometimes emotionally charged situation.