RECENT Sunday Times articles about WA’s ambulance service echo widespread local community dismay about the utterly disrespectful way Toodyay members were treated over the shock dismissal of their locally elected St John Ambulance chairperson, Charlie Wroth, last November.
Charlie served 39 years as a Toodyay ambulance volunteer – including as a first responder in hundreds of emergency call-outs – and was made a Member of the Order of St John for “outstanding service” at WA Government House in April last year.
He was sacked six months later and banned from Toodyay’s busy ambulance depot for making allegedly “disparaging remarks” about St John Ambulance emergency response policies at an inter-agency emergency services forum in Northam last July.
Local ambulance volunteers were ignored when they raised similar issues with St John Ambulance administrators several times previously.
WA Nationals MP Shane Love told State Parliament last November that he was “shocked and dismayed” by the sacking and that St John Ambulance WA should apologise to Charlie and “re-examine the way it speaks to volunteers”.
“Charlie raised the same things that we have heard from ambulance volunteers right across the state, from Albany to Karratha,” Mr Love told the Legislative Assembly.
“St John needs to understand that there is a view among many vollies across a number of districts that they are not valued and respected by St John.”
It is not the first time St John Ambulance has treated the Toodyay community with disrespect.
Charlie was previously banned from entering the Toodyay ambulance depot in 2018 for an alleged misdemeanour and ordered to tell other local ambulance volunteers that he was on holidays.
He was treated like a criminal before being reinstated and re-elected by Toodyay members as their local sub-branch chair.
Charlie has provided exemplary service to Toodyay’s St John Ambulance service for nearly four decades, including helping to raise funds for, building the town’s modern ambulance depot and frequently donating his time and equipment to help and improve local emergency response capabilities.
St John Ambulance administrators showed no respect by sacking a member who, day or night, was often the first responder to emergency calls to provide comfort, support and care to sick and injured people waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
It is interesting to note that the St John Ambulance Wheatbelt regional manager in Northam who supported our chairperson’s sacking is no longer employed by the organisation.
I myself have been a member of the Toodyay sub-centre for 40 years, including 10 years as chairperson.
I sincerely hope St John Ambulance WA has more concern in the future for volunteers and their families, and listens to their voices.