Volunteers learn sign language
Volunteers at St John Ambulance in
Suffolk have received a special lesson in sign-language.
A day-long course was recently arranged for its ambulance team,
which was led by a well regarded British Sign Language tutor.
Geraldine Brown, who led the course, is profoundly deaf and
played a significant part in the design of the day's training.
The event, was intended to help volunteers
understand how communication is made more difficult for deaf
clients on a daily basis. It also gave the team the
opportunity to finger-spell, and the skill to perform basic signs
for common medical conditions and symptoms.
The day was a great success and I was able to to learn some of the sign language techniques which are key to our role within St John Ambulance.
St John Ambulance Emergency Transport Attendant
An overall deaf awareness session was also
given as part of the course.
Keith Hotchkiss, Operations Manager for St John Ambulance
Suffolk, said: 'As a transport and first aid service, we inevitably
see patients with all kinds of short and long-term medical
complications – and deafness or communication difficulties are
something we frequently witness.
'It makes sense that we should equip ourselves to be able to
better understand patients at a time when they are in contact with
us because they are vulnerable or in high need.
'We set about establishing a link with members of the Deaf
community in the region and found that they were very receptive to
the idea of assisting our ambulance staff and helping them develop
the basic skills of communication.'
The day-long event was held at the headquarters of St John
Ambulance Suffolk, in Bramford.
Trevor Bailey, an Emergency Transport Attendant for the charity
for four years, said: 'I thought this was a great idea and was
really keen to be part of the event. The day was a great success
and I was able to learn some of the sign language techniques which
are key to our role within St John Ambulance.
'There have been many times when we have attended patients and
have had to work quite hard to make ourselves understood or to
understand what the individual is trying to tell us, so this is a
great step for both us and the patient.'
Since the training took place, one member of St John Ambulance
Suffolk has already put their new skills into
practice. When assisting a deaf person who was suffering
from a sudden illness, the volunteer used the signs learnt as part
of the course to communicate with them.
Keith Hotchkiss added: 'With an estimated figure of
over nine million deaf people in the UK and a rising number of
elderly population suffering from difficulty in hearing, this
training has been most valued. Due to the success of the course, it
is probable that more sessions will be conducted within Suffolk
allowing our volunteers to offer assistance to a wider community in