Training takes place at the St John Ambulance headquarters in Belmont. It's quite a large building with little sub-buildings surrounding it so keep an eye out for this building:
There's plenty of free parking on the side road. Training took place on a weekend and Monday night, it's a good idea to bring your own lunch and snacks as it's a good 10minute walk to the nearest food outlet.
On the intranet, there are plenty of prereading and videos to watch, with 7 modules to cover over 2.5 days:
Level 1 Module 1 Patient assessment and vital signs
Level 1 Module 2a Ambulance Equipment
Level 1 Module 3 Oxygen & Equipment
Level 1 Module 4 CPR & Defibrillation
Level 1 Module 5 Spinal Care Awareness
Level 1 Module 6 Basic Medication Awareness
Level 1 Module 7 Introduction to Triage
The reading material is overwhelming (some of the modules are like 50-70 pages) and since I'd just finished exams, I really couldn't be bothered/didn't have time to do much reading.
We had 2 very capable and knowledgeable paramedics run the course, they were super lovely. The whole course was extremely practical and hands-on, which was both good and bad. Good in that we weren't stuck at a desk having to memorize things, bad in the sense we had to absorb things quite quickly (for those who didn't quite get around to doing their pre-reading.....)
The majority of the course was a more indepth and thorough breakdown of DRSABCD - Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, CPR, Disability. We learnt how to use BVMs (Bag Valve Mask) and oxygen equipment. We practiced using stretchers and loading dummies into the ambulance. CPR was the big order of the day as we spent countless minutes on our knees pumping chests and shocking our dummy patients.
We also learnt how to take vital signs - respiratory rate, pulse, blood sugar levels. Putting it all together with expected normal levels for adults/children, using the AVPU test (Alert, Vocal, Pain, Unresponsive) and GCS.
We learnt how to take motorcycle helmets off, use C-spine collars for suspected spinal patients, scoops and boards.
Basically, there is quite a lot of content to cover so the course does warrant a 2.5 day duration - something which put me off doing it initially (a whole weekend!!)
On the final night, we are introduced to the basic medication kit and then work in teams to attend a practice scenario. As the attending officer, I am suitably freaked out when I find my dummy patient slumped unconscious against a toilet ... I forget "S" - send for help, and after checking airway and breathing, my brain goes blank and I forget I have to do CPR!
The backup team arrives (thank goodness!) so we have enough hands to move the dummy patient onto a canvas carry bag while administering CPR and oxygen. It's pump-pump-pump, lift and move the patient for 8s, back down and pump-pump-pump again (we can only withhold CPR for 10 seconds max). So it's a slow move to the stretcher and ambulance outside. We finally make it, do the transfer and we all pile into the back of the ambulance (all 5 of us). The ambulance drives around while we continue CPR. It feels like quite a real simulation to me, nerve-wracking and something that I hope I won't ever have to do.
It has been a really enjoyable course. Trainers were fantastic, attendees were friendly and attentive - people who volunteer their time usually have a lot of empathy for others. I'm looking forward to attending some events as an Event Health Officer.