For Windsor resident Andrew North, volunteering was a no-brainer: he had always liked helping people and with his experience as a paramedic, he was able to combine his skills and passion to provide a valuable service to his community.
Mr North donates his time to St John Ambulance NSW, for which he is a Hub Leader for Hawkesbury City, Penrith and Blue Mountains divisions.
A paramedic by profession, Mr North left the ambulance service in 2010 and opened-up his own business looking after remote clients, including at mine sites, and even at the Commonwealth Games in India.
When he was a child, Mr North was a cadet with St John Ambulance, and five years ago, he decided to get back to his roots.
"I wanted to do a bit more community-based stuff, so I reached out to St John Ambulance. They said they needed a paramedic and so I joined up. Now I'm a Hub Leader," Mr North said.
In the Hawkesbury, St John Ambulance can be seen at every Hawkesbury Show as the main medics on site, and regularly at show jumping and dressage events.
Most recently, the team helped-out with disaster relief during the floods, with a presence at local evacuation and recovery centres including at South Windsor and Wisemans Ferry, where they provided support and services including RAT testing and mental health first aid.
"We're someone friendly for people to talk to. We're getting used more in the emergency side of things and getting requests from other agencies to provide these types of services," Mr North said.
You don't have to have any experience in medical services to volunteer at St John Ambulance.
"We're always looking for new members that are keen to learn and help out the community," Mr North said.
"Anyone can come along and we'll train you. You'll start off as a first aid responder, and you can go on to become an advanced responder, providing advanced first aid and resuscitation. There's ongoing skills and knowledge training, and you get access to healthcare professionals that help and train you."
The team meets once a week and volunteers can do a minimum of 60 hours per year.
What does Mr North get out of volunteering with St John Ambulance?
"I just like helping to be honest, helping the community. I now volunteer for Street Side Medics as well, helping out with vulnerable communities," he said.
"At St Johns we're looking for more opportunities in the Hawkesbury area as well, to do more local community work."
- To find out more about volunteering at St John Ambulance NSW, go to www.stjohnnsw.com.au