Seven English and twenty Polish volunteers at ‘Tag der Johanniter’ in Germany

From 5th to 7th May, a team of seven English volunteers and twenty Polish volunteers attended ‘Tag der Johanniter’ and joined the first aid competition of Johanniter Germany as guest teams. The English volunteers were invited by Larissa, the German volunteer who joined St John Ambulance in London for the provision of first aid at the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Our Polish JOIN member has a longstanding friendship and exchange with its German colleagues and regularly participates in the activities of ‘Tag der Johanniter’. Read the report by Alice Guillaume from St John Ambulance below:

“On the first weekend of May, we attended ‘Tag der Johanniter’ as a guest English team from St John Ambulance. We’re very grateful to Larissa for inviting us, as the weekend was a fabulous experience, and definitely one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of being part of St John Ambulance.

The whole group before the first scenario Left to right and back row to front row: (back) Alice, Oliver, Jonah, Sue, (front) Dani, Kathleen, Larissa, Emma (and Dino), Jonas, Orla

We were a little trepidatious in advance, as some of us had never even met before and we hadn’t trained together as a team. We thought we would be well out of our depth! But those worries were quickly put to ease with the welcome we received.

We are very grateful in particular to Jonah and Dani, who looked after us across the weekend, ensuring we were in the right place at the right time and translating the tasks for us so we knew what we were doing! We are also grateful to the referee of the written theory test, who was so accommodating of us and let us use Google translate on our phones: this was appreciated, because as a team going into the test we knew ‘Schlaganfall’ – having desperately asked for last-minute first aid vocab – and not much more German. The theory test was reassuring, because once we’d translated it, we realised we actually had the same first aid knowledge.

The biggest point of difference for us probably came with the stretcher race in the afternoon. In England we don’t carry patients on stretchers (and so we even had to borrow helmets and gloves from another German team!), but watching the German team before us we thought it seemed fairly doable. This perspective changed when we were actually out there on the course carrying the 75kg stretcher. We quickly realised more time should have been spent in the gym in preparation! Despite completing well over the time limit, we did manage to finish the race with not too much water lost, and we had fantastic support from all the other teams who were watching and cheering us on.

With another German team after the stretcher race

The setting of the event was really novel. We’d never done scenarios in a Film Park before! The casualties were incredibly realistic, and overall, it was easy to become completely emersed in the scenarios. We would like to thank all the assessors and casualties we had for their patience and willingness to speak English (it certainly made things a lot easier for us).

Probably the thing we were most impressed by was the atmosphere of the event. The prize-giving at the end of the event was such a joyous, celebratory experience. We came away feeling really motivated as volunteers and feel like this is such a valuable experience to have. It was also wonderful to see all the different German regions and learn a bit more about them and their teams.

The weekend flew by and yet looking back so much was done: we learnt lots about our sister organisation, including about aspects that are different to us, such as the search and rescue dogs, and enjoyed the fun – if chaotic – moments such as the stuntshow in a volcano and excellent silent disco. However, the people we met were definitely the main highlight. Everyone was so friendly to us and made us feel incredibly welcome, which we are very grateful for. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Johanniter for allowing us to attend the event and also supporting us with the travel. We look forward to seeing many of you again in the future (maybe at the next Tag der Johanniter??).”

Group photo on the stage at the awards event