St John Rescue Corps has become an integral part of St John Malta’s coordinated effort to support the national authorities in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traditionally associated with firefighting and lifeguard service in collaboration with the Civil Protection Department, the volunteers at the Corps have been redirected towards helping to contain and control the spread of the virus, as well as offering essential assistance to the local community.
“When the first case of COVID-19 emerged in Malta, we immediately realised that our service may be required in a very different scenario than that which we are generally accustomed to,” explains Andrew Grech, Commissioner & Corps Commander. “We observed how Italian medical services and civil protection were overwhelmed and we wanted to prepare ourselves to provide adequate support.”
The Corps volunteers’ first focus was on equipping themselves with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and receiving training from the Civil Protection Department on decontamination procedures, so that they would be able to help others safely and knowledgably. Furthermore, the Corps acquired new equipment and large tents so that its medical support unit could be set up as field clinics if necessary.
“The main aim of St John Rescue is to provide the authorities with a reserve pool of resources that includes equipment and trained personnel who can be deployed as the situation escalates,” continues Mr Grech. “To help us achieve this, we have also secured some significant corporate support, for which we are hugely grateful. UNEC Co Ltd has provided us with rental vans at no cost, while we are also receiving support from Melita, GO, Stars Group and PAL.”
In collaboration with Foodbank Lifeline Foundation, the Corps has also engaged in delivering food aid packages to vulnerable families, following a personal initiative of one of the members of the Corps with the NGO. The sizable pool of volunteers, using the large vehicles the Corps operates, are making it possible to increase the number of daily deliveries and ensure that aid arrives where needed. Likewise, a temporary drop-off service has permitted the public to drive by the Corps headquarters in Madliena and leave donations of non-perishable foodstuffs that can then be distributed.
To support the food aid effort, the Corps has also developed an app via one of its members who worked from home on the project. The software enables volunteers at the Corps with managing delivery schedules, while also providing drivers with GPS locations of delivery addresses and tracking completed deliveries.
“We plan to continue providing the food delivery service until we receive any formal requests for assistance from the Civil Protection Department or any other constituted authority,” assures Mr Grech. “We will continue it even if our volunteers need to be deployed on higher priority duties related to COVID-19, as we have an arrangement with a local gaming company who will offer temporary volunteers to boost the service”.
Since the challenges presented by the on-going COVID-19 crisis have led to the closure of its principal revenue streams – while also increasing its expenditure related to the services it provides – St John Rescue Corps has set up an online donation facility via its website. Visitors are invited to make a donation to support the important work of the Corps by PayPal or credit card at www.sjrcmalta.org/donate/. More information may also be found online at www.sjrcmalta.org or via the Corps’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sjrcmalta/.