Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Dec

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to December, and what a year it has been!

This year has certainly presented us with many challenges, but I am proud to say that as an emergency service and volunteer organisation we have taken all of those challenges on board, adapted and continued with providing an excellent and caring service to our community.

I was so proud to see staff and volunteers gathered at our annual Excellence Awards recently and celebrate their achievements. All of our nominees and recipients are role models in our industry, willing to share their expertise and knowledge and support their peers.

St John NT also recently met for its Annual General Meeting at which Marion Scrymgour and Mark Coffey were appointed to the Board. Both members bring with them a wealth of experience, particularly in dealing with regional and remote issues, and are recognised business and community leaders.

Sadly, we farewelled Fran Kilgariff who leaves the St John NT Board after 16 years. Fran has a long history of community involvement and her commitment and leadership has been an invaluable asset to our organisation. Fran is an Officer in the Order of St John and was again formally recognised for her commitment to St John last month at an Investiture ceremony in Alice Springs where she was awarded a Volunteer Service Medal for her years of service.

As we move into the new normal and adapt to COVID-19 related processes in our everyday activities, St John NT has adopted the new Northern Territory Government “The Territory Check-In” app at all of our premises to ensure that we can operate safely and provide our visitors the confidence that we are keeping COVID safe. When you next call in please take the time to quickly scan the code and register at St John NT.

Before I go, I would like to thank all of our supporters this year, your assistance big or small helps us to provide quality care for Territorians.

No matter what your plans are over the holidays, please take care and stay safe. I look forward to being in contact again in 2021 and wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


St John NT Excellence Awards 2020

St John NT celebrated leadership, outstanding level of care and professionalism at its annual Excellence Awards on 25 November at Parliament House.

Hosted by the Minister for Health Natasha Fyles MLA and with ABC Radio Darwin’s Breakfast presenter Jo Laverty as Master of Ceremonies, the awards acknowledged the important role our first responders, volunteers and corporate staff have played in a year which has faced many challenges.

The Rotary Club of Darwin Sunrise 2020 Paramedic of the Year was awarded to Amelia Brown, a paramedic for the Northern Region based in Darwin.

Amelia has been recognised by her peers as a skilled practitioner, constantly delivering a high level of quality and culturally safe care. She is a compassionate and supportive team member who clearly demonstrates the St John NT values, showing empathy for her patients while reflecting her personal integrity and dedication to the role.

The St John NT Excellence Awards 2020 were kindly supported by the Northern Territory Government, Rotary Club of Darwin Sunrise, Australasian College of Paramedicine, Area9, Bunnings, H on Mitchell Apartment Hotel, Event Cinemas, ABC Radio Darwin and First Nations TV.

Photos from our night of nights can be viewed here.


New brand awareness campaign

Last month, St John NT launched a new brand awareness campaign to highlight the work of our volunteers and commercial services, including first aid products and training and the mechanical workshops.

Designed by Territory company Mojo Collective, the campaign is built around a suite of 15 second animated commercials featuring a cheeky Territory dog who gets up to mischief.

CEO Judith Barker highlighted that as a self-funded charity, increasing awareness of St John NT’s commercial services is essential, as sales from these activities help develop its volunteer program.

“Beginning as young as eight-years-old, all St John NT volunteers learn life-saving skills while building an understanding of the importance of being an active and contributing part of our local community. Through this campaign we aim to remind people that the same trust and quality that goes into our ambulance service, also forms the foundation of our commercial and volunteers’ activities with the underlying intention of caring for our community, building strength and resilience,” she said.

A compilation of the new St John NT animations is available here and you can look out for the images on Darwin buses, online and Channel 7!


Play for Purpose

All we want for Christmas is for you to win a $250,000 prize pack in the Play for Purpose raffle! If this sounds like your Christmas list, buy a $10 raffle ticket and help support our wonderful volunteers!

50% of every ticket sold will go directly to St John NT volunteer programs, and you will go into the draw to win over 395 prizes – a total value of $300,000 – how’s that for a Christmas miracle!

To buy your tickets click here or visit the Play for Purpose website and select St John NT as your chosen charity by 17/12/20.


Melissa’s Story

As a St John NT volunteer, your opportunities for learning are endless. Melissa Crompton experienced this first-hand when an email sent from the Volunteers office piqued her interest – the opportunity to attend a two-day Volunteer Leadership Program at the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR).

As a Superintendent for Darwin Division and Territory Officer for Youth Support, Melissa saw the course as a way to enhance her skills and confidence in order to grow as a leader. Melissa’s application was successful, and she joined Red Cross and the Volunteer Fire Brigade in building knowledge, sharing experiences and exploring practical leadership frameworks through interactive learning.

“It was inspiring to learn how to build an effective team and maintain motivation within the organisation” Melissa said. The course also covered how to resolve conflict and give constructive feedback, essential qualities for any leader. Melissa plans to utilise these skills in her role with St John NT alongside the self-care strategies and fatigue management skills. Melissa’s highlights include learning about her particular leadership style, inclusivity in leadership and gaining the courage to lead.

If you can see yourself following Melissa’s footsteps, St John NT is looking for passionate volunteers to lead our Youth (aged 8 – 18) in the role of Superintendents for Darwin and Farrar Cadet divisions.

Please submit your expression of interest by COB Friday December 11 to volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au. For more information visit our Facebook page or contact the volunteer office on (08) 8922 6205


Historical Snippets - December

St John Ambulance in Cyclone Tracy

History snapshot


It was Christmas Eve 1974 and nothing was going to stop the party goers - especially not a cyclone that would probably veer off course anyway. However, there was no complacency with St John divisional officer Rod Bramley, who knocked off work early to prepare the Parap Ambulance Centre what would arguably be the most significant tropical cyclone in Australia’s history. Likewise, St John volunteer Frank Simmons spent his workday at NT Civil Defence HQ manning communications and providing updates to Police, St John, the hospital, media and all who needed this vital information.

By the time that the ambulance night shift rolled around, it was obvious that Tracy was going to hit. Police advised St John to recall all their cars, as it was too dangerous to be on the roads. Volunteers arrived with families to take shelter in the strong building. After a sleepless, dramatic night that included a callout during the eye of the cyclone, the exhausted crew emerged shortly after 6.00am to survey the damage. The radio antenna had fallen onto one of the ambulances, the watch-room was flooded, telephones were out and the banks of louvres upstairs had caved in.

A couple of Department of Civil Aviation radio technicians came over and had radio communications restored by 8.30am. Ambulances were checked and sent out early, and the centre’s first aid treatment room was cleaned up to become a base for injured people seeking treatment. More St John volunteers turned up to help, while others went to first aid centres established in schools to treat the many casualties. At about 9.30am an ambulance and crew arrived from Batchelor to help with the mammoth task.

A second treatment station was set up in the nearby Aviation Club. The centre’s medical post worked 36 hours straight, treating an estimated 2000 patients on Christmas Day alone, not counting patients transported to other casualty centres. On Christmas afternoon, St John took command of all hospital ambulances, their drivers working alongside their own. At 11.30pm the medevacs from Darwin airport began. Every available ambulance was transporting patients in one direction, and much needed medical supplies in the other. Exhausted crews snatched what little sleep they could in their ambulances with radios up full volume to wake them up in case of a callout.

After three days and nights of almost constant work the volunteers were absolutely exhausted and needed relief. On the evening of Sunday, 29 December a team of twelve full-time St John Ambulance officers from South Australia arrived to provide just that. As a result of Cyclone Tracy, St John maintained control of the hospital ambulances, therefore taking over the full Darwin ambulance service. They employed a manager in August 1975 and the first paid ambulance officers were employed in February 1976.

You can read the full story in the book Awkward Hours, Awkward Jobs, available from St John NT Headquarters, Casuarina.

Frank Dunstan
SJANT Volunteer Historian

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Did you know that a severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis and is potentially life-threatening?

Signs and Symptoms

Mild to moderate allergic reaction:

  • Swelling of face and tongue
  • Hives, welts or body redness
  • Tingling mouth
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea

Severe allergic reaction:

  • Rapidly developing breathing and circulation problems
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Difficulty talking or a hoarse voice
  • Swelling or tightness in throat
  • Faintness, dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pallor and floppiness (in young children)


  1. Follow DRSABCD.
  2. Do not allow the patient to stand or walk. Help the patient to lie down flat, or if breathing is difficult, allow the patient to sit.
  3. Ask the patient if they need help with their action plan if they have one. Only help the patient if they request it. If the patient is unable to give verbal consent, administer an adrenaline auto-injector immediately.
    • How to give an EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®
    • Form a fist around the EpiPen® and pull the blue safety release off.
    • Hold the patient’s leg still and place the orange end against the patient’s outer mid-thigh (with or without clothing).
    • Push down hard until a click is heard or felt, and hold in place for 3 seconds.
    • REMOVE the EpiPen®. In a severe allergic reaction you should use any available adrenaline auto-injector
  4. Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
  5. Monitor the patient. If there is no improvement after 5 minutes, use another adrenaline auto-injector, if available.
  6. If breathing stops, follow DRSABCD.

Upcoming first aid courses

Don't wait until the new year to start planning your first aid training - the St John NT 2021 First Aid Training Calendar is now available. Courses cover a range of first aid topics including CPR, Caring for Kids and workplace related courses and are held in population centres across the NT. All bookings support the development of our volunteer program, including free First Aid in Schools and community support at events across the Territory. Visit our website to book a nationally accredited course today.

St John NT Special Offer

Special Offer: This Christmas show someone you care?

Looking for gift ideas, why not visit a St John NT retail outlet to find a special gift that keeps on giving. St John NT is offering 20% of all St John branded First Aid products and kits for the month of December.

Only available at 416 Stuart Highway, Winnellie and Allchurch Street Alice Springs

Holiday trading hours

Closed Public Holidays only

  • St John NT Head Office and Reception, Casuarina
  • St John NT Mechanical Workshop, Winnellie

Closed 12pm Thursday, 24 December until 8am Monday, 4 January 2021

  • St John NT Retail outlets in Darwin and Alice Springs
  • First Aid Training and enquiries

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