AFTER more than 30 years of volunteering as an ambulance officer, Charlie Wroth has been tossed on the scrap heap by St John Ambulance’s paid officials.
We tried to find out why our colleague was removed from his position as president of the Toodyay sub-centre last month and sacked from the organisation as a whole but hit the brick wall of bureaucracy.
We were told the reasons for his dismissal were “confidential” and that was as far as we got.
It is not the first time that St John administrators have sought to remove Charlie from the local sub-branch.
A year or so ago he was ‘paused’.
If you strip back this ‘weasel word’ to common language, it means he was rendered powerless to perform any volunteering duties and was sworn to secrecy.
He couldn’t even tell his wife why he wasn’t answering any ambulance call-outs.
St John officials instructed Charlie to tell everyone that he was “on holidays”.
Perhaps Charlie’s forthright comments in representing sub-branch volunteers was an affront to management who issues directives which at times are at odds with the volunteer experience.
Whatever the reason, to summarily dismiss a dedicated volunteer and have him escorted to and from the premises is disgraceful.
The remaining volunteers have been put in the invidious position of either resigning in solidarity with Charlie or continuing to volunteer for an organisation that does not respect years of selfless commitment to the local community and surrounding areas.
IT IS with great sadness and sorrow I write this letter in support of former Toodyay St John Ambulance Chairperson Charlie Wroth after his very unfair sacking by the organisation’s hierarchy.
They need to get out into the real world where all the work is done by volunteers who are unpaid.
Along with Charlie, I have also spent more than 35 years day, night and in between supporting the Toodyay community rain, hail or shine.
This treatment of our ambulance service volunteers and the community is injustice at its worst.
Freedom of speech does not exist in the eyes of St John.
My continued love and support to Charlie and his family.
I HAVE been a volunteer with the St John Toodyay Sub-Centre for more than 35 years.
In the years I have worked with Charlie Wroth he has always shown a high level of professionalism and commitment to the St John Ambulance Association.
As a volunteer Charlie has given far more than the community should expect.
Charlie was always available to help and trained new volunteers and played a pivotal role in the successful operation of our centre.
I am disappointed and appalled at the treatment Charlie has received from an organisation I was once proud to work for.
I AM Charlie Wroth’s sister and would like to express my thoughts on his dismissal by St John Ambulance.
This followed the Emergency Services Volunteer Forum in Northam on July 3 hosted by the National Party at which he expressed comments and concerns.
This action by St John says a lot about the organisation.
It shows a complete lack of comprehension by paid employees of St John to the work, commitment and sacrifice of the organisation’s volunteers.
There is an alarming disparity in medical outcomes for country people compared with those living in the city.
The country volunteers of St John Ambulance play an important role in mitigating these statistics.
Because of this, supporting volunteers and appreciating their feedback should be a priority.
The recent action of St John to dismiss Charlie is definitely inconsistent with their stated values.
I feel that Toodyay and the surrounding areas can ill afford to lose a person with such experience, dedication and passion.
I AM EXTREMELY disappointed to lose from our volunteer family a man that I truly admire, who inducted me into the Toodyay St John Ambulance.
Charlie Wroth was always there to offer advice and training, answer queries or just make a phone call to ask if I was OK after a potentially disturbing ambulance call out.
How dare St John management (paid employees) treat so badly one of their most dedicated volunteers who has given years of unpaid service.
If he were a paid employee, he would be afforded support and appeal avenues through Fair Work Australia or an associated union body.
Alas volunteers are not afforded this luxury for something they do without any pay at all.
Where does St John’s public ideal of “service of humanity” come to play in their dealings with him.
How dare they sack a man that we voted for, fully supported and valued to be our leader.
This man is active in other emergency service organisations and is the ‘go to’ person in any contacts and collaboration required to ensure the smooth operation of joint operations and promotional activities.
I am a very disappointed and disillusioned volunteer ambulance officer.
I HAVE been a member of the St John Ambulance Toodyay Sub-Centre for about four years in a non-operational role as a weekend and relief phone coordinator.
The phone coordinators for the Toodyay sub-centre take calls from the State Communications Centre.
We are told the priority of the job, priority one being the highest for patients with possible life-threatening injuries or health issues – blue lights and sirens.
We are also asked to do hospital transfers from Northam to metropolitan hospitals and from regional towns which need a patient transferred to Northam.
The phone coordinator then calls out the crew which can be at any time during the day or night.
On almost every call I have taken over the past four years, Charlie Wroth has been on the line as well.
He has backed up almost every call 24 hours a day for years.
Charlie has always been there to give me advice if needed and provide support when required.
Because he is no longer able to be involved with St John in any capacity, I am feeling lost.
There are others who are as capable on the phones but it was Charlie who gave me the confidence to handle the most difficult calls.
When necessary, he would attend a call-out as a first responder, so if he was closer to the patient he could be there before the ambulance arrived.
All of this expertise and experience has now been lost to the Toodyay community.
St John in Toodyay will still have an ambulance there for you, day and night, seven days a week but be aware that we have lost one of our biggest hearts and a most dedicated volunteer.
I FIND it very difficult to understand how a man who has been a servant of this community for decades can all of a sudden be stripped of his dignity and status by people who do not know him.
As a vollie, Charlie Wroth has been a pillar of this community with his commitment and generosity to both the firies and ambos.
So far we have not been given any legitimate reason as to why he is being punished for speaking out and questioning the workings of St John Ambulance (SJA).
If pointing out failings in the system that affect the day-to-day workings of lifesaving volunteers is a crime, then SJA do not deserve to have the loyalty they get.
The decades of service that Charlie and others like him have given to our community should be cherished and not terminated for a lack of desire to listen and take on board the fact that the ambulance service in country WA is very different from that in the metropolitan area.
If every person who disagrees with St John Ambulance policies and procedures is to be treated the same as Charlie, very soon there will be no ambulance service in WA.
If St John can justify to the community why Charlie has been removed from office and effectively barred from the organisation, I would love to hear the reasons why – and so would the whole community.
St John’s actions should be a warning to all other vollies – speak out at your peril.
REGARDING the removal of the Toodyay Ambulance Sub-Centre chairperson by St John.
Firstly, my condolences to Charlie and his family.
They have been treated very poorly and unfairly by St John.
Secondly, I commend the ambo vollies who continue to service our town.
Most have said they do this for the community, not the organisation, and if there was an alternative service provider, that they would change uniform.
Be extra nice to them as they are doing it tough.
Thirdly, will any good come of this?
One can only hope that the public and political attention given to the matter might lead to a change of culture within management of St John.
Volunteers make a tremendous sacrifice in what they do.
It would be nice if they did it for, instead of despite, St John.
TOODYAY St John Ambulance Sub-Centre members heard of Charlie Wroth’s sacking via an after-hours email.
No reason was given and we remain uninformed.
Charlie and all other sub-centre chairpersons have been directed to remain silent, leaving Charlie open to scrutiny and personal defamation.
Ironically, in April this year, Charlie received one of the highest accolades from St John for his outstanding service to St John and community.
I applaud Charlie and his family who have sacrificed much in the name of St John.
Our sub-centre thrived under Charlie’s leadership.
At the time of his sacking Charlie held the chair and was a sub-centre training facilitator, driver trainer, mentor, first responder, first aider and cross-community-organisation link – an unsurpassed contribution.
St John management must reconsider their treatment of volunteers who are shrugged off when issues are raised.
We have no external association to take our concerns to.
They care little about volunteers, except to ensure we minimise their spending on paid paramedics in regional areas.
Despite St John management’s attitude, please be reassured our local Toodyay ambulance volunteers will continue to provide an uninterrupted, compassionate service for those needing an ambulance –because we do care.
I FOR one am glad for the alternate perspective and well-researched, lesser-known information offered by Stirling Hamilton in his Herald column Ol’ Blind Joe.
Historic and present-day manipulation of other countries and atrocities perpetrated in our name by the powers that be lead to generations of hatred.
No matter how much you dislike the customs of another culture, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Lack of empathy, fixation on the almighty dollar and an ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude comes before a fall.
Left, right or brindle, if the greed-ridden money lenders and those deeply beholden to them aren’t constantly scrutinised and held to account, we’ll end up with multitudes of very angry, disinherited, hungry souls of many creeds on our doorstep.
Living is easy with eyes closed – in the short term.