Volunteers' Week Blog
This week is the 30th anniversary of
Volunteers’ Week, and we want to thank our 20,000 plus volunteers
who work year-round to provide first aid in communities up and down
the country. Hear from our volunteers, in their own words, about
what their role means to them.
Suzi Brent, First Aider
What does it mean to be a first aider?
It means many things.
It means that you are skilled in the hopeless
task of resuscitating plastic mannequins.
It means you cannot look at a triangular piece
of cloth without mentally folding it into a sling.
It means you may get the chance to put a
bandage on the odd celebrity knee – Katie Price’s, in my case.
It means you are a familiar, reassuring face
present at all sorts of public events, waiting to give out
plasters, offer first aid advice, or even save a
I joined my local St John Ambulance unit ten
years ago in search of some valuable experience to help me move
into a medical career - I’m now a dispatcher for the London
Ambulance Service. The comprehensive training I received to
become a first aider taught me what to do as the first person on
scene for a range of emergencies, such as: seizures, burns,
diabetic problems, broken bones or cardiac arrest.
But as I moved from the training room to front
line duty at events (such as Trooping the Colour, London Marathon
and Premier League football matches) I realised that the little
things are just as important as the big things. Whether it’s a kind
word, sticking a plaster, or helping a person to their feet after a
tumble, a first aider needs to be able to provide all these things
as well as deal with life-or-death emergencies. And we always need
to be prepared, because we never know what situation will come
Once, I was called to an elderly gentleman who
just seemed to have stumbled whilst leaving a church service. He
wasn’t hurt and someone just wanted me to quickly make sure he was
okay. But I quickly realised something wasn’t quite
right. His face was grey and clammy, and when I asked him a
few questions he told me that he’d been having pains in his left
arm and shoulder throughout the service. My training kicked in, and
it quickly became apparent to me that he may have suffered a heart
attack. We called an ambulance and he was quickly taken to
So, being a first aider means being there for
the public. It means being able to make a difference, big or
To learn more about Suzi’s role, please visit our Volunteering section. The Volunteers’ Week is an
initiative of the National Council for Voluntary