Join the Club and Save a Life? Durham’s volunteer First Aiders

 During the summer many of us will have attended public events locally and elsewhere in the Country. On high-days and holidays there are vintage car rallies, country shows, village fetes and so many more fun things to do. Often unnoticed amongst all the frivolity is a band of brothers and sisters dressed in black uniforms and carrying a first aid kit, members of the St John Ambulance volunteer service.

Durham Links is the local embodiment of the St John Ambulance and they are based at Meadowfield Industrial Estate.

In an emergency we rely on these dedicated people to save life, and their history is one based on just that premise.

St John Ambulance can trace its history back to the 11th Century when the Knights of St John cared for sick and injured pilgrims in the Holy Land and were called the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. Their uniform carries to this day the eight pointed cross of the Order that is dedicated to providing free medical care since their beginnings in that first hospital in Jerusalem.

During the Great War, so fresh in our minds at this anniversary of the outbreak of that shattering event, the St John Ambulance volunteers joined forces with the Red Cross – that other fine body of volunteers who still attend disaster zones across our troubled world. Jointly the two organisations did their level best to save lives and ease the suffering of our brave soldiers, often at risk to their own lives.

Links Units were formed in 2002 to allow for students in higher education to continue with their St John Ambulance service. They undertake first aid duties for the college and social events. Two units are based within Durham University.

Many units of St John are now reaching their Centenaries, three having taken place; Chilton and Ferryhill in 2005, Burnopfield in 2007 and Consett in 2009.

However, First Aid is not just a historical fact, it is no less important than it was during those dark days. The ability to learn first aid is still available, and one never knows when it will come in handy. A ‘valid’ First Aid Certificate is still of value when applying for any number of jobs too, especially those in public facing industries including Security, Teaching, Manufacturing, Retail and so many more. For parents some First Aid knowledge can prove very useful, and even a life saver.

As we approach the darker months and the telly is again full of repeats, why not do something truly great with your spare time and give St John Ambulance a call to see if you can train with them, or maybe join up, and in the process make some new friends? There are a number of First Aid training providers locally who offer courses, they are not free, and they are available in Durham and the surrounding area. Call in at your local Library they usually have details of local volunteer organisations on hand.

Volunteering is a noble thing to do and follows the example of many a man and woman of Durham. Volunteering to be a life saver is surely a cut above the rest?


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