Xperience Group has won a contract to implement a Cloud Platform to manage and host the IT infrastructure for St John Ambulance NI. In addition, the established IT solutions provider is installing ERP software Microsoft Dynamics NAV together with Microsoft SharePoint, a flexible online portal that will allow 1700 volunteers to collaborate and access information while providing an efficient online booking system for workplace first-aid training courses. The charity also expects the move to attract more volunteers whilst allowing it to update the finance, marketing and database infrastructure that supports its activities.

“Basically the funds achieved from statutory and refresher first-aid training in the workplace helps to fund our volunteer side,” explains the charity’s Northern Ireland Company Secretary, Hazel Patton. “Obviously the more paid training we can deliver, the more volunteers we can recruit and train to provide first-aid at public events, assist in patient transfers and as a back-up to local ambulance services. Thus a modern online presence is essential.”

Formed in 1887, St John Ambulance believes that it’s unacceptable that anyone should die simply through the lack of first-aid. Last year alone the charity taught first-aid to some 800,000 people across the UK in line with its mission to be the difference between ‘a life lost and a life saved’. This latest initiative, which is being rolled out across the whole of Northern Ireland, should enable the charity to save even more lives.

Patton explains that St John Ambulance chose Xperience as their IT partner for a number of reasons. “Firstly we were impressed with their track record,” she says. “We were looking for someone with experience in the charity sector and specifically software development. Xperience impressed us with their understanding of our requirements and the high standard of their presentation. We also wanted to partner with an organisation that would be able to offer us a completely managed service, taking away the worry and responsibility of having to look after IT thus allowing volunteers and staff to focus on our core activities. Just as importantly they also demonstrated, through their experience, that they have the sustainability to follow through into the future what will be an ongoing initiative.”

The charity expects the platform to go live in the summer. “Once the website is launched, workplaces will be able to book first-aid courses online,” Patton explains. “On the volunteer side, we predict that a more sophisticated online presence will attract a greater number of younger recruits while enabling us to collaborate more effectively with existing volunteers.”

“Each volunteer will have a log-on which will allow them to access the website. In addition they will have up-to-date access to event information and policy documents which ensure that our quality assured first-aid standards remain consistently high across the Province. The provision of quality patient care is the ultimate priority of our volunteers.”

Patton points out that the initiative is also about raising the profile of the St John Ambulance brand. “St John Ambulance has been around for so long that people almost take it for granted that there will be first-aiders on hand to help. Indeed some people don’t realise that without first-aid provision many public events couldn’t actually take place. In order for us to continue to provide cover we need funding and volunteers. We see this £133,000 investment as vital if our volunteers are going to continue to save lives in the future by delivering the first-rate training and support that everyone expects from St John Ambulance.”

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