Student volunteering week

5 things I've learned from being part of St John Ambulance for the last 10 years

It's Student Volunteering Week and Abi Davis, Unit Manager at Keele University tells us what she loves about being a student volunteer.

'What's St John Ambulance?' I remember asking my mum when driving past the local headquarters when I was 11.

'Like Scouts but only first aid,' was her response. To me that sounded great and I begged until she took me along to Cadets where I found out that St John Ambulance is more than just first aid. Here are five things I've learned in the last 10 years of being part of St John Ambulance.

Abi Davis1. It's not just first aid!

As a Cadet, I remember doing all sorts of things: visiting fire stations, learning about the history of the order and once my granddad bought a sheep along for an animal awareness lesson. Now, I run my own unit at university and I try to keep things really varied for our members too. Of course we learn vital lifesaving skills , but we also run around the university dressed as reindeers, practicing our radio communications.Abi Davis

2. Volunteering is really exciting

'Quick, Sam Smith is coming on stage, I need someone to volunteer to stand in the pit!' One of the better jobs I've been asked to do for St John Ambulance! But even when you hear over the radio that there's a casualty that needs your help, you get a rush of adrenaline, you get to put your skills to use and when that casualty leaves your care better than they arrived, there's no greater feeling.

3. It looks great on your CV

Every work place is grateful for first aiders, so St John Ambulance really shines on a CV. It goes without saying that first aid duties are excellent experience if you want to go into healthcare, but what if you want to get into teaching? I regularly make lesson plans and train fellow students every week (not to mention the chance to work with children in badgers and cadets). Want to go into management? Unit managers conduct interviews, performance reviews and run teams just like managers of big businesses.

Abi Davis4. It fits in really well around studies or work

Volunteering has that added flexibility. If I have lots of deadlines approaching or exams around the corner, I can take it easy and sign up for duties when they suit me. But when I'm off in the summer and looking for things to do, there are always plenty of events to keep me occupied!

5. It has boosted my confidence

If you told 11-year-old Abi that one day she would be crewing an ambulance on a night shift at one of the busiest music festivals in the country, I don't think she would've believed you. In fact, I don't think I believe I could do it until I did and I enjoyed every moment of it!

St John Ambulance has pushed the borders of my comfort zone and shown me that I can do so much more than I thought I could. I hope to take not only the skills that I've learned, but also the confidence to use them with me, beyond my degree and into the workplace.

Want to see more?

Some of our student volunteers have been busy vlogging. Take a look at our playlist on our St John Ambulance YouTube channel.