Adventure Profile – Colum Doyle
For the last four years, Colum has been volunteering with St John’s Ambulance, developing his skills and helping to keep people safe. Not all adventure has to be in the wilderness, he sees the same risks and rewards most adventurers seek every time he steps into an ambulance.
Who are you?
My name is Colum Doyle. I am 30 years of age and I am a born and bred Belfastard. I joined Scouts at around 16 years of age, which in Scouting years is very old. But I stuck around as a Cub Leader and then Venture Leader until around 26. I then joined St John’s Ambulance as a new quest. I always had an interest in First Aid in Scouts, so I thought it would be an ideal next step.
What sort of training does that involve?
As far as training goes within St John’s, there are several levels. I am currently at the level of Patient Transport. We have continuous training nights in our station weekly, but we have to revalidate our training yearly with an official out-of-station trainer. All of our training is internally recognised and it is recognised by the NHS allowing us to work alongside them.
What sort of events have you worked at?
St John’s cover such a vast array of events. However, my station is an ambulance-based unit. This means that all of the events that we attend would require an ambulance. This could be anything from a fair at a local park, providing medical cover for the North West Motorcycle Race and then also working alongside NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) during their busy periods answering 999 calls.
I’m sure you’ve seen some awful things, has it ever brought you down?
Any event can provide its own difficulties as there is always a risk they can go wrong or we wouldn’t be there. Obviously, motorbike racing can be very intense as it is such a high-risk event. However, my favourite duty is covering NIAS shifts as you never know what call or accident you might attend. With this job, although it is all voluntary, you must work to very professional levels. We see a lot of very sad cases but I feel we have a fantastic support network and a great team to help us through any tough case or problem.
Why do you do it?
I don’t know why I do it. I am no doubt putting myself at risk on a voluntary basis. I do feel that maybe Scouts left me with a void in my life to help other people and I can honestly say I get a thrill from it.
What level would your Adventure Skills Emergencies Badge be?
The problem is, none of the qualifications I have in St John’s are external so strictly speaking, not very high. But I know that I would have the equivalent skills and experience to hit level nine. No doubt. I would just need a whole load of other level nines to sign it off… That’s always the tricky part.
I think it’s the thought of the unknown that keeps me so excited. I don’t know what’s next. I have attended motorcycle events and sat in an ambulance for 12 hours and not done a single thing all day and I have attended a party where an elderly person tripped and ended up “big sick” and rushed to hospital with life threatening injuries.
Honestly, I would really like to think that a full-time career with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service would be in my future.