Switzerland’s sole volunteer paramedic service
Croce Verde (Green Cross) Lugano is a non-profit that runs an ambulance service, a low-cost dental practice and first aid training courses. Volunteers are the backbone of this organisation.
The association based in Lugano in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino celebrates its 118th anniversary this year. It relied exclusively on the work of volunteers until 1989 before becoming more professional. However, Croce Verde still depends on a pool of 110 volunteers, in addition to the 95 people it employs. These volunteers offer pre-hospital medical assistance free of charge during their spare time. This structure is unique in Switzerland; no other canton has integrated volunteers into its emergency relief efforts.
250 hours of commitment
What motivates volunteers to join Croce Verde? Reasons range from the need to help, the adrenaline that comes with emergencies, the relationships that are created with patients and their families, the unpredictability of the role, the feeling of being part of a team or simply giving meaning to one’s life.
In September 2017, nearly 90 women and men submitted a spontaneous application to join Croce Verde. The association selected fifteen applicants for training. After 300 hours of training, the volunteers give a written theoretical exam and are evaluated during their interventions. If they pass, they get to join a team during medical emergencies. The investment is significant: everyone must complete a minimum of 250 hours of service per year, in addition to 20 hours of further training.