All pictures by Malcolm Toghill, St John Ambulance England
From 4 to 11 February, a volunteer from St John Ambulance England assisted his German colleagues during the carnival week. The local branch of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe Germany in Ludwigshafen provided medical services at four different carnival parades. Below, you can read the general impression of this special week as described by Kathrin Spannagel, Head of the rapid response team at Johanniter Ludwigshafen.
“In 2010, a first exchange involving 10 volunteers from Austria and 2 from Germany took place at the Notting Hill carnival in London. The exchange was arranged via JOIN. That was the first time I ever met other St John volunteers. Ever since then I wanted to know more about how things were done elsewhere.
In February 2016, we finally managed to get together again. Malcolm Toghill, whom I previously met at the Notting Hill carnival, arrived on 4 February. That same evening, we went to a carnival party with about 2,500 guests; we were on duty at a treatment center until 4 am.
On Saturday and Sunday, we were part of a team on patrol duty during the parades in Frankenthal (100,000 visitors) and Ludwigshafen (250,000 visitors).
On Monday, we were part of an ambulance crew in Mainz. Mainz is one of the biggest carnival parades in Germany, welcoming about 500,000 visitors. This year the parade was canceled due to a storm warning. However, the party was not cancelled, so we had to be in attendance.
Tuesday was a day of rest, and we spent Wednesday in Speyer. Our English friend left us on Thursday to go back to London.
We had an unusually quiet carnival season this year, which gave us a lot of time to exchange experiences and knowledge on the work of both St John Ambulance England and Johanniter Germany. There are as many similarities as they are differences, and some aspects would require more attention. We could learn a lot from each other!”