St John Ambulance volunteers in Portadown have been left distressed and “heartbroken” after a mobile first aid unit was broken into on Sunday.
The unit, which had items “forcibly removed”, has been put out of use for the foreseeable future because of the action of these low-life criminals.
“It with great sadness that today (Sunday) we discovered that our mobile first aid post has been broken into, items forcibly removed thus rending this asset unusable for the forceable future,” the Portadown division of St John’s Ambulance posted on social media.
“What makes this harder to bear is that a common misconception is that St. John’s Ambulance is funded by the Government. This is totally untrue.
“We rely on the kind generosity of our local community to help fund and support our work. This is why this is so heartbreaking and distressing for all our volunteers as they give up their time willingly to help support our community and National Health Service.”
The Portadown division is based at Cido Business Complex, just off the Carn Road in the town.
Inspector Alwyn Peters said: “The theft was reported on Sunday, just before 3.25pm. Various items – including a sink, cooker and heater – are missing, with damage caused to the unit’s lock.
“This is a mobile first aid unit belonging to St John’s Ambulance, a charitable organisation. Volunteers give up their time and expertise to provide an invaluable service to the community – and that makes this theft all the more despicable.
“I am appealing to anyone with information to contact us on 101, quoting reference 898 of 17/01/21.”
Portadown DUP Councillor, Darryn Causby, branded the incident “totally scandalous”.
Upper Bann MP, Carla Lockhart, branded it “disgusting”.
“This is a despicable attack on a much valued and very important community health resource and it to be totally condemned,” said Ms Lockhart. “Those who carry out such mindless criminal activity need found and brought to justice.”
She added: “In 2020 alone the local team has committed 21,740 voluntary hours and transported 980 patients between home and hospital. 17 A & E transfers from public events priori to restrictions have also been made.
“That is local people helping local people in real need. It is an invaluable service and one that we should cherish and support. It is terrible that their premises have been damaged and items stolen.
“We need to get behind the team here at St John’s Ambulance. Much needed funds are now required to replace stolen items and repair the facility, with £5000 set as a target. I encourage everyone to get behind this fundraising drive. Let’s smash this target and go beyond it. None of us know when we might need this service, so let’s all do our bit to get it back up and running to full capacity as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, anyone with any information on the break in should contact the PSNI so we can remove these mindless idiots behind this attack from our streets.”