“I volunteer because I love helping people, I love what Wellington Free Ambulance stands for, and I love that you never quite know what’s going to happen when you turn up for a shift.”
Craig Shepherd is an emergency ambulance volunteer, and part of the winning Street Hospital volunteer crew. The Courtney Place triage unit ‘Safer City’, and later ‘Street Hospital’ series was a real highlight for him.
"To be able to wander around the party zone, see what’s going on and help the unlucky, the bad, mad and sad was wonderful. You could be professional, have a bit of fun, but still get the job done.”
Craig explains that it was a complete team effort. “We had a core group of volunteers and others who came and went to fit in with their other activities. When we finished we got a lot of thanks from a lot of people. There was a feeling that we’d done something to make the city safer.”
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he says. “The public loved it, the businesses loved having us there, and the volunteer staff loved it. We felt like we were part of the heartbeat of the community.”
New Zealand is built on volunteers, whether it’s licking stamps for a community mail out, or working at sports games at a weekend. Craig believes that the opportunity to be a volunteer with Wellington Free Ambulance is not one to be turned down. “They are certainly not all glory jobs, but when you resuscitate someone or simply comfort somebody in their moment of crisis, money can’t buy that great feeling.”
An enduring memory for Craig was spending time with one lady in the ambulance, and then in ED, who later passed away. “She joked with me about her hair looking a bit ‘unkempt’. I said, ‘that’s okay, mine is too.’”
Other days are a bit more run of the mill. “In the course of a shift volunteers might do eight or ten jobs, and there’s nothing in particular that stands out except that you know you have given people care and comfort, and left them with a smile on their face. Hopefully they are less scared about whatever that next thing is that lies ahead of them.”
When asked what got Craig into volunteering the answer comes quick. “Helping to look after patients. That’s what makes the job, along with my wonderful colleagues.”
Craig has volunteered for Wellington Free Ambulance for just over three and a half years.
Congratulations to the Street Hospital crew of volunteers who yesterday won their category for Health Care Provider Service Volunteers.
Read more: Wellington Free Ambulance Volunteers Win National Award