Knowledge can save lives

St. John Ambulance's Nanaimo branch empowers people to respond to emergencies.

Maureen Foote

Maureen Foote

During an emergency, basic first aid can make a big impact.

“Even the most basic [knowledge] is going to save lives,” said Maureen Foote, Nanaimo branch manager of St. John Ambulance.

She said staff hear stories about how St. John Ambulance training has helped people on Vancouver Island save someone’s life.

“We don’t hear them all the time, but when we do it’s a very good feeling,” said Foote.

Teaching first aid, CPR and other lifesaving skills is one of the fundamental goals of St. John Ambulance.

The not-for-profit strives to empower people so they have the skills to respond if any emergency situation arises.

The organization has more than 2,000 trained volunteers in the province who offer their services at community events and to train others.

“All of our instructors are very good at what they do, very professional and well trained,” said Foote.

In February, Foote took a bigger role in the Nanaimo organization when she was promoted to branch manager. Previously she worked as office administrator and has been at the station since 2001.

The promotion means she’s more involved in the entire process of overseeing the branch. She’s responsible for getting new instructors, public outreach and ensuring operations run smoothly.

She loves getting out into the community and talking to people.

“The joy of working in the office is talking to the general public,” said Foote.

She said sometimes people don’t realize that S. John Ambulance is completely separate from the B.C. Ambulance Service.

Every once in a while they get calls about transporting to the hospital. However, even though the organization has an ambulance during situations where a person needs transport to the hospital, members will contact the B.C. Ambulance paramedics.

The Nanaimo branch recently purchased a new ambulance, which was funded through donations. The vehicle is fully equipped and could be used to transport a patient, if necessary.

It can also be used during an emergency situation on the Island such as an earthquake, mass flood or fire. The Nanaimo building, located at 2250 Labieux Rd., is also designated as a comfort centre where people can go in the case of a city-wide or Island-wide emergency.

The Nanaimo branch offers a five-day summer camp for kids starting July 23. It also offers first aid courses, which have registration fees. The fees help raise money to support the organization’s community service programs.

For more information please go to or call the Nanaimo branch at 250-729-8889.

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