St John Rescue Corps is set to continue its range of services introduced to counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malta, as the country adapts to the ‘new normal’.
While the St John Rescue Corps is traditionally associated with firefighting and lifeguard services in collaboration with the Civil Protection Department, its volunteers have been redirected in the past months to help tackle the pandemic.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, St John Rescue Corps has supported the local community with its services, while assisting the national authorities in the battle to contain and control the spread of the virus.
Financial support received via corporate sources and government funded projects enabled the Corps to further equip themselves in response to the virus. Through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme 2020 (VOPS), the Corps was able to acquire a Small Fires Unit (SFU), while a Small Initiatives Scheme (SIS) and funding from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ covered the cost of training equipment. The Corps has also received support from Melita, GO and PAL, while UNEC Co Ltd provided them with rental vans to be used to expand the Corps’ operations.
“The rental vans donation allowed us to extend our services to delivery of food aid packages to vulnerable families in collaboration with the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation,” says Mr. Andrew Grech, Commissioner & Corps Commander. “It has been a hugely successful project, that is still ongoing, with total deliveries now exceeding 200 per week. The effects of COVID-19 will linger on for some families, so we will continue this service to support those in need.”
With a total of 57 volunteers actively contributing to the efforts of St John Rescue Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic, between March and May 2020 the Corps contributed 341 hours in volunteer training, 826 hours in community service, 36 hours in firefighting assistance, 53.5 hours at CPD station duties, and 459 hours in other duties.
“We are now looking ahead and seeking to return to a new normality, with training for our volunteers recommencing and we are preparing to restart our training courses for the public,” Grech explains, “Furthermore, we are once again accepting bookings for our Fire Warden Courses which will be delivered under revised hygiene procedures to help preserve COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Also, we are happy to add that the public will be seeing us back again this summer in our usual role providing fire prevention, lifeguarding, and first aid services at events.”
Notwithstanding the generous private and corporate financial support already received by the Corps, the pandemic has nevertheless presented a serious financial impact. Incoming funds to the Corps have decreased by 52 per cent since March 2020 due to fundraising activities being halted. Meanwhile, costs have also increased by some 48 per cent as volunteers have been equipped with the protective gear required to carry out their services.
“The COVID-19 emergency also delayed our efforts to acquire a new rescue boat. We will be reviving the project through a fundraising event organised on the 4th July, #Kayak4StJohnRescue,” adds Grech, “A group of experienced kayakers (including one of our own members, Cami Appelgren) will be kayaking around Malta, Gozo and Filfla this Saturday. The Corps will be providing logistical support, rescue and first aid service throughout the 24-hour challenge.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 emergency has dried up our revenues at the same time as we have been increasing our services to the public. St John Rescue Corps now needs to pick up where it left off before the start of the crisis,” Grech concludes.
Visitors are invited to make a donation to support the important work of the Corps by PayPal or credit card here. If you would like to donate specifically to the kayaking challenge, please include #Kayak4StJohnRescue as a message. More information may also be found via the Corps’ Facebook page.
This content was supplied by St John Rescue Corps