Volunteer Swap report: Ambulance Service in Vienna

Vienna, Austria, 20th December 2022

From 14th to 21st November, Myurri Lohesan from St John Ambulance visited our Austrian member in Vienna. During her stay, she supported the teams of the Acute Care Service and Ambulance Services. Read below the experience of Myurri in her own words:


“Travelling to Vienna was an experience that I will never forget. I applied to the join swap program so that I could learn more about the work of St John Ambulance globally. The opportunity to go to Vienna was very enticing because of the unique services that they provide to the population. I was fortunate enough to gain experience through shadowing the Acute Care Service and the Ambulance Service.

Whilst they may both sound the same, they do completely different things! The acute care service is there to help meet the needs of patients who have been recently discharged from hospital. The crew consisted of a nurse, a driver and a technician. Furthermore, the crews attend calls that originate from patient medical alert bracelets that are only connected to Johanniter. Overall, this is a unique service that we don’t provide here in England, and it is heartwarming to see that no matter where you go in the world, St John Ambulance or Johanniter has the same vision: to help ease the burden of their national health service and provide people with the care they need at their most vulnerable times.

Whilst I don’t do ambulance shifts within St John, I often do observers shifts with London Ambulance service as part of my medical school program. Therefore, having the opportunity to go there, ambulances and see the types of calls they attend. It was interesting to see the variation in knowledge and skills that are volunteers in England have versus those in Austria. The ambulance crews I was shadowing only attend low priority calls and therefore, the often carried the bare minimum in terms of equipment (in comparison to England) however, they are still able to provide the best care they need to their patients and get them to where they need to go.

What was interesting to see was that the ambulance service is essentially the primary source Johanniter provides whereas here in England, you could argue that event first aid service is our main service. It was also interesting to see the unique route in which many of the volunteers join Johanniter through. There is a large majority of individuals who are working in Johanniter as part of their national service, and I met many of these people throughout my time there. This route has meant that they have retained a lot of people as paid workers, and some have also stayed on to volunteer whilst pursuing other education or employment.

Overall, this opportunity allowed me to meet wonderful people and regardless of where you are in the world, there is always someone in St John (or the equivalent) who is willing to welcome you with open arms. The experience develops you as an individual whilst also giving you the chance to explore new places and get a feel for a different culture and experience!”