Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Apr

Message from the CEO

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to April, to say that the past month has gone by like a whirlwind would be an understatement. New projects and priorities we had back in March have been somewhat overwhelmed and pushed down the ‘to do’ list by the current pandemic situation, but we have managed to move forward on some of them knowing that everything we do is directed at the health and wellbeing of our community.

Just last week we were pleased to release the NT version the St John First Responder app. This app was developed by our colleagues in Western Australia and has now been adapted to NT information and locations. A key feature of the app is its ability to display the location of the nearest defibrillators, also known as an AED (automated external defibrillator).

These life-saving devices are used to treat a sudden cardiac arrest, a condition that occurs when the electrical signal to the heart is interrupted and the heart unexpectedly stops pumping. The AEDs are designed so that a person without First Aid skills can use it, as it provides clear and concise verbal instructions. Having an AED in public spaces, hotels, schools, the list goes on, could quite simply mean the difference between life and death for someone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest.

We have also ramped up recruitment of St John NT volunteers. Our dedicated and skilled volunteers provide a range of services to the community including First Aid at public events, youth development, logistics, operational support and community education.

While many public events in the NT have currently been postponed due to COVID-19, we have identified that our volunteers could provide a valuable resource to our ambulance service and have already started upskilling and retraining some of them to assist front line staff in the event that they require extra assistance. Our plan is to have a strong volunteer team able and ready to help the Territory as we move into recovery after COVID-19.

Please remember to be kind to yourself and others as we navigate the current conditions. Look out for the St John NT Teddy Bear Hunt and understand that we are right there beside you supporting our community and looking out for those who are in sickness, distress or danger.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


Never be caught off guard: Life-saving St John First Responder app now available

Nothing matters more in an emergency than time. Whether it is the time it takes to provide the location of an emergency to the Triple Zero (000) operator or to find the nearest defibrillator, these seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

St John NT has been working with St John WA to launch the free St John First Responder mobile app in the Northern Territory. The now-available First Responder app uses GPS-assisted information to help in an emergency situation. The app can be used to call Triple Zero (000), provide the precise location of the call to the Triple Zero (000) operator, locate the nearest hospital, access crucial first aid information, and display the location of all nearby defibrillators.

Quickly locating and using a defibrillator, also referred to as an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), is the most effective way to save the life of a cardiac arrest patient. In fact, the combination of early defibrillation and CPR is often the only way to restore a person’s heart rhythm to normal after cardiac arrest. Each minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, however, reduces the chance of survival by 10%.

Mr. Peter Brady, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the Waterfront precinct in November of last year, credits his life to the early defibrillation provided by several off-duty nurses and the Waterfront lifeguards. Had the off-duty nurses been unable to locate an AED, Mr. Brady would have faced a different fate.

“Without the AED, CPR alone would not have revived me even when performed by professionals,” he said.

The St John First Responder app allows all Territorians to quickly locate an AED in an emergency, greatly improving the chances of survival for cardiac arrest patients like Mr. Brady. The app is available now and can be downloaded for free from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

For more information visit: stjohnnt.org.au/shop/first-responder-app

NT volunteers taking on extra responsibilities

As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities have come together while staying apart. Neighbourhoods across the world are initiating teddy bear hunts, painting rainbows on windows, singing from balconies, and participating in the Front Porch Project. Each activity ignites a sense of togetherness that leaves many looking for even more ways to support their community during this strange time.

St John NT volunteers, who are experiencing a decreasing number of opportunities with Event Health Services, have also been eager to find new avenues to support the Northern Territory. To utilise the diverse skillset of our volunteers, St John NT has developed an Ambulance Assist training program. The program aims to upskill interested volunteers and staff to support our paramedics in the event that we require extra staffing capacity. A number of St John NT volunteers have already commenced training to prepare for supporting the frontline staff, including driving ambulances.

“Our volunteers are a valuable resource to our ambulance services,” Director of Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas stated. “They will be essential in helping us manage an escalation of COVID-19 as well as helping the Territory get started again once the pandemic ends.”

St John NT has a wide range of opportunities available for volunteers. While First Aid experience is not necessary when applying as a new volunteer, St John NT is specifically encouraging people who meet the following criteria to enquire about joining us:

  • Current First Aid certificate
  • NT Working with Children Clearance
  • National Police Clearance
  • NT Driver’s license (non-restricted)

People interested in becoming a St John NT volunteers, or interested in learning about specific volunteer opportunities, should visit our voluneteer page or contact volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au or (08) 8922 6205.

A Decade of Dedication

It’s said that time flies when you’re having fun and, if you were to visit our Darwin workshop and ask, Don Murfett would surely agree. Ten years ago this month, Don joined St John NT as an ambulance builder. He quickly became the “go-to” guy on all fleet projects and is the first to offer assistance to less experienced staff in the way of ambulance building.

“It’s a pleasure to work alongside Don,” Workshop manager Mark Grahame shared. “He’s the master of his craft and shows boundless dedication every day he puts on his uniform.”

Don, also known as Sir Don and The Don around the workshop, is now a senior ambulance builder. His dedication, leadership, and commitment to his career have made Don nothing short of a role model within the organisation. He has personally attended to each of vehicles of the current Darwin fleet, ensuring that St John NT is able to help people in sickness, distress, suffering or danger.

“The saying goes ‘he's a jack of all trades and a king of none,’” Mark said. “But in Don's case he’s a king of all trades and a jack of none. Without Don’s expertise we wouldn’t have the fleet we have today.”

Congratulations on 10 outstanding years of service, Don!


St John NT Teddy Bear Hunt

Have you heard of the Teddy Bear Hunt? Communities around the world are placing teddy bears big and small in their windows to connect with their neighbours during social isolation. Inspired by Michael Rosen’s children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, children are loving this safe and fun activity while walking around the neighbourhood with their parents.

To join in on the fun, St John NT is launching a virtual bear hunt! During the month of April, our beloved Johnny Bear is asking kids of all ages to share photos of how their teddy bear (or favourite stuffed toy) is spending time during social distancing. To enter, simply post the photo as a comment on one of our St John NT Teddy Bear Hunt Facebook posts.

All entries will be placed in a draw that will be held on Friday 1 May. One lucky winner will get their very own Johnny Bear!


  • The photo must be posted as a comment on one of our St John NT Teddy Bear Hunt Facebook posts to enter
  • This is a children’s contest –no references to alcohol, drugs, or other crude or illegal behaviour will be accepted
  • While we would love to see teddy bears from all over the world, the prize can only be delivered to NT addresses
  • Multiple entries are allowed
  • No entries will be accepted after 11:59 p.m. on 30 April 2020
  • The winner will be announced at 4:00 p.m. on 01 May 2020


New Recruit to the Triple Zero (000) Stork Club

St John NT is pleased to introduce the newest member of our Triple Zero (000) Stork Club, Jackson!

When Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Jackson answered a call from an expectant mother in labour last month, little did he know that he was about to join an exclusive club. Jackson calmly assisted the new mum and dad with a safe delivery of their baby boy while waiting for an ambulance. This outstanding assistance earned Jackson the Stork Club Award and pin, as well as a warm welcome to the exclusive club.

The Triple Zero (000) Stork Club recognises St John NT EMDs that assist in the successful delivery of a baby over the phone before the ambulance arrives. Last year, St John NT received 230 calls from expectant mothers in labour. Of these, six babies were delivered with the assistance from one of our EMDs over the phone. Jackson is the third member of the Triple Zero (000) Stork Club to be inducted in 2020.

Great work Jackson, and congratulations to the new parents!


International Women’s Day

Last month, St John NT and thousands of other organisations around the world celebrated International Women’s Day on Sunday, 8 March.

Working with our peak body, the Council of Ambulance Authorities, St John NT marked this day by celebrating and recognising the contribution women are making towards ambulance services across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Each state and territory nominated women across all of the areas of the service including paramedics, emergency communications and corporate, who demonstrate strength and perseverance and are role models to our workforce. Six exceptional St John NT employees were awarded the CAA Women in Ambulance Honour for their work and career progression. Jhouanna Maya, Katrina Smith, Nicole Johnston, Sara Gleeson, Shaye Quinlan, and Taleaha Dawson were championed as role models to the rest of our workforce.

“It is a privilege to be nominated and be amongst such incredible women in the ambulance services,” Honour Recipient Sara Gleeson said. “To be looked upon as a role model in a service such as St John NT is an honour.”

International Women's Day is about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action. We are extremely proud of the women who have been willing to lead by example and make a valuable contribution in delivering our service to the community. For more information on the CAA Women in Ambulance campaign, please visit https://www.caa.net.au.


Josh’s Story – St John NT Volunteers

Collapsing onto the couch after a long day at school might be appealing for some, but St John NT Cadet Josh seeks a more thrilling way to spend his time. Over the last year, 13-year-old Josh has been volunteering for St John NT and building a skillset that will help him throughout his entire life.

“As a St John NT volunteer, I know I am able to help people and even save lives,” Josh shared. “I’ve learned a lot of First Aid skills and how to talk with patients to keep them calm and relaxed.”

Since being involved with St John NT, Josh’s interest in the medical field has continued to grow. From watching fellow volunteers administer First Aid to providing treatment himself, Josh imagines himself continuing work in the medical field.

“This role will help me my whole life,” Josh stated. “I plan to study and work in the field. Everything I’ve learned so far, and everything I will learn, is crucial to becoming a paramedic.”

Josh and his fellow Cadets are usually ramping up for a busy season at this time of year. Due to the cancellation of many events, including the National Cadet Competitions, St John NT Cadets are finding new ways to build their skillset while adhering to the social distancing recommendations. Our Volunteering, Events, and Community Education team have been hard at work developing online Cadet training and ensuring our Cadets continue to learn life-saving skills and remain connected during this time of isolation.

St John NT is currently recruiting for passionate volunteers. If you are ready to build your story, contact us at (08) 8922 6205 or volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au.

History snapshot by Frank Dunstan

History snapshot

Historical Snippets - Adelaide River

On 14th March 1965, Dick Gailer of the Darwin St John Ambulance Brigade went down to Adelaide River at the request of the townsfolk to establish a volunteer ambulance service. His week-long stay was successful, and on Tuesday 13th April the Adelaide River emergency ambulance carried its first patient.

“When two year old Josephine had a severe asthma attack Mrs Hazel Darwen, wife of the Adelaide River policeman, called out the owner of the private vehicle that was now the emergency ambulance. When they set out another phone call alerted the Darwin Hospital which sent one of their ambulances to meet up on the highway. The two emergency vehicles met at the 32 mile where Mrs Darwen and Josephine transferred for the remainder of the trip to Hospital. The new service proved its worth by getting Josephine to the Hospital more than an hour sooner than would have otherwise been the case.”

A volunteer division was formed in the township in May 1972, with the division’s registration sanctioned by the Chief Commissioner on 8th June 1973.

When a volunteer division started in Batchelor in September 1973 the two divisions worked closely together, sharing training resources. With both divisions suffering membership problems, they combined on 12th November 1975.

Today, the Adelaide River and Batchelor divisions remain combined. The division is a small but active group, attracting members from the entire Coomalie Region and often combining training with the Norther Territory Fire and Rescue Service.

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Did you know that the most common causes of allergy in children are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish?

Allergic reactions are common in children and a severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, and people diagnosed with severe allergies should have an action plan and adrenaline auto-injector.

Severe Allergic Reaction

Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate allergic reactions that may precede anaphylaxis include swelling of the face and tongue, hives, welts, body redness, a tingling sensation in the mouth, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The main symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are rapidly developing breathing and circulation problems such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty or noisy breathing, difficulty talking or a hoarse voice, swelling or tightness in the throat, faintness, dizziness, confusion, or even loss of consciousness. Young children often turn pale and experience floppiness.


Do not allow the patient to stand or walk – help them lie down flat. If breathing is difficult, allow the patient to sit. Ask the patient if they need help with their action plan or if they have one. Only help the patient if they request it. If they are unable to give verbal consent, administer an adrenaline auto-injector immediately.

To administer the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr:

  1. Form a fist around the EpiPen and pull the blue safety release off
  2. Hold the patient’s leg still and place the orange end against the patient’s outer mid-thigh (with or without clothing)
  3. Push down hard until a click is heard or felt, and hold in place for 3 seconds
  4. Remove the EpiPen

Once the EpiPen has been administered, call Triple Zero (000) and request an ambulance. Continue monitoring the patient. If there is no improvement after 5 minutes, use another adrenaline auto-injector if available.

Upcoming First Aid Courses

Regrettably, all public First Aid training courses have been cancelled and at this stage we are unable to advise as to when courses will resume.

Online courses are available on Infection Control and Fact Sheets on common emergency situations are available to download for free. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

History snapshot

Safe at home – First Aid discounts and offers

Introducing St John NT’s monthly special.

School holidays are coming up and St John NT is offering the First Aid Fast for Babies and Children book and a fully-stocked First Aid kit for only $99 during the month of April.

As a parent, you need to ensure the safety of children in your home. From minor cuts and burns to sprains and anaphylaxis, it’s important to know how to cope with emergencies of all kinds. First Aid Fast for Babies and Children is an up-to-date reference guide created to help parents and carers manage common injuries and illnesses amongst children. Each section is fully illustrated, supporting parents no matter their level of First Aid knowledge.

The Medium Leisure First Aid kit included in this offer is filled with an extensive range of First Aid equipment for emergencies both in and out of the home. Parents will have quick access to high-quality First Aid supplies from cold packs to wound irrigation. Usually retailing at over $130, parents and carers can purchase the book and kit for only $99 until the end of April or while supplies last.

To purchase, please stop by our retail shops in Darwin at 416 Stuart Hwy Winnellie or in Alice Springs via the Allchurch Street entrance.

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