Willa Holmwood, Neet Kaur and John Bunka volunteer at Kelowna COVID-19 vaccination clinics. (St. John Ambulance/Contributed)

Willa Holmwood, Neet Kaur and John Bunka volunteer at Kelowna COVID-19 vaccination clinics. (St. John Ambulance/Contributed)

St. John Ambulance volunteers offer support at Interior B.C. vaccine clinics

Up to 16 medical first responder volunteers are on-site in clinics in the B.C. Interior

St. John Ambulance medical first responder volunteers are providing monitoring support and first aid at COVID-19 vaccination clinics in B.C. Interior communities.

The charity’s volunteers are at clinics in Kelowna, Kamloops, Merritt, Chase, Ashcroft, and Vernon. Up to 16 medically trained volunteers at any given day are on-site, with plans to cover more communities as more volunteers sign up and the vaccination program expands.

Each day they put in numerous hours to provide aftercare to those getting the vaccine. This includes monitoring patients for 15 minutes and providing first aid if needed for allergic reactions, injuries, or in case any medical emergencies occur.

John Broughton, a 25-year volunteer for the Kelowna division of St. John Ambulance, is one of the people giving his time at the Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna. With volunteering on hold the past year, Broughton was eager to return, giving back to the community.

“So far, the experience has been great, and I’d say 99.9 per cent of the people who come in to get immunized have a wonderful attitude,” said Broughton, adding he hasn’t witnessed any serious reactions or first aid emergencies.

“I have only had one person who fainted, in which I put my first aid skills to use with a primary and secondary assessment. Many people think that they are going to go into anaphylaxis, but they’re really just anxious, so sitting and talking with them calms them down.”

Crystal Wilson, a Kamloops-based volunteer for St. John Ambulance, has also been providing first aid support at the clinics in Chase, Merritt, and Ashcroft.

Similar to the Kelowna clinic, volunteers at the remaining B.C. Interior clinics mainly witness nerves and possible fainting spells from those receiving the vaccine, with no treatment of emergency first aid incidents or serious reactions reported.

“It has been a beautiful experience and a privilege to be able to witness so many people coming together for the health and safety of not only themselves but also their families, friends and communities at risk,” said Wilson.

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