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BHP gives St John Ambulance a much-needed boost


BHP provides funding to help St John Ambulance in Port Hedland take care of the local community.


Thanks to BHP’s funding, St John Ambulance has a new emergency support vehicle, plus a new centre that can house eight ambulances.

The St John Ambulance team is busy 24/7 supporting the 14,000 resident community of Port Hedland in Western Australia, and covering an area almost as big as Tasmania. With an average of nine call-outs a day, it is one of the busiest in the region.

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There are six full time career paramedics in Port Hedland, supported by 56 community volunteers. For a long time, staff have operated out of a very old building with limited space, no proper bedrooms, restricted training areas, unreliable air-conditioning, and inadequate storage for medical supplies.

Recently BHP helped fund an Emergency Support Vehicle, to cater for mass casualty situations and contributed half of the funds needed for a $5 million new Port Hedland Ambulance Sub-centre.

“We used to have space for only three ambulances but now we can house eight,” said Janelle Cockayne, a Volunteer Ambulance Officer and Volunteer Development Officer.

“The Sub-centre also has three times the storage space for medical supplies because we need a much larger inventory than a city station due to our location. Plus we have great first aid training rooms, offices and quiet rooms so people can get some decent rest and that is important in attracting volunteers. The service plays a very important role in our community, and when people see BHP putting money into essential services like ambulances and a new headquarters, it’s a really big thing.”

While many people fly in and fly out of Port Hedland on shift work, Janelle, the Paramedics and her volunteering friends are in town for the long haul. Janelle says part of the town’s attraction is the strong sense of community, and that’s due to Port Hedland’s relatively isolated location.

“My kids were virtually born and bred at the station,” Janelle explained. “I used to feed them and they’d sleep in their stroller in the station manager’s office when they were little. That sort of acceptance and support builds a very strong sense of family and you know there are people you can lean on if you need too. Giving back to the community is one of the main reasons why I volunteer and it’s a big motivator for most people. So, when you can see local businesses putting back into the community too it means a lot to people, because it directly benefits people when they need help most.”