Passion to help rewarded
For 19-year-old Heidi Rodgers, volunteering with St John Ambulance has been something she always wanted to do.
Now, after spending just under a year with the St John team in Bridgetown, Heidi is enjoying her time working for the community and helping save lives.
“I started here when I was 18 but before I started I applied several times and did not make it in because of my age and how it affected things like my ability to drive,” she said.
“After several attempts I am not sure what happened, maybe it was because I had applied so many times, but I was finally granted an interview and then was successful from there.”
She said she sat her level one training in Busselton two weeks after joining which had been a great introduction.
“I have been filling in ever since and I am now a part of the Bridgetown team’s night crew.”
Heidi said she had been driven to apply after speaking to family friends, who had been volunteers with St John.
“They had worked for St John for a long time and were leaving so they were telling me all these stories about their time volunteering,” she said.
“Listening to them it sounded like a really interesting and rewarding thing to do so I figured I would give it a go and then if I could not handle it at least I had tried.”
She said she had been unsure about what she wanted to do for work at the time and so volunteering made sense.
“I was so undecided about what I wanted to do for work, I was asking myself if I wanted to be a nurse or a paramedic and wondered if I could handle these kinds of jobs, I figured I could work that out volunteering here,” Heidi said.
“I am still pretty undecided, I am now doing a university preparation course at ECU and am hoping I will do well enough to get into paramedicine.
“I am also hoping to apply for a student ambulance officer position, only so many people get in but it would mean I could do my university course through St John while being employed by them.”
While she completes the preparation course, Heidi said she would continue to volunteer with Bridgetown’s St John.
Her work around the community has led to her winning the CWA Young Volunteer of the Year Award.
“The Balingup branch nominated me and I was sent an invite to the State conference up in Perth,” she said.
“It was a quick trip up to make it to the event, I finished work at 3.30pm, went straight there and made it just in time.”
She said she had not been expecting to win at all and had not even prepared a speech for the night.
“They called me up and I was definitely put on the spot, it was really surprising, there are so many young people across the State who are doing so many amazing things so I am honoured they chose me,” she said.
Heidi said her favourite part about working with St John was getting to know the community and meeting new people almost every shift.
“One of my best achievements from this job is getting to know the community better, I think people feel more comfortable with me helping them now too,” she said.
“I love being called out because you never know what will happen during your shift and everyone is just so supportive.”
While she enjoys most aspects of her work, Heidi said the most challenging thing was the length of time she was on call for.
“I live out of town and so I come and stay at the sub centre when I have a shift and the shifts can last up to seven days sometimes,” she said.
“Being away from my partner is always really difficult but we are hoping to move into town soon to help solve this problem.”
Despite the challenges, Heidi said the positives outweighed the negatives.
“I would encourage everyone to give it a go because you might love it, I thought I would freak out and not cope too well at first but it has become one of the best things I have ever done,” she said.
“If you are thinking about it but are a little nervous or scared, I would say just give it a go and see how you like it, there is always support if you need it.”
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