Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Feb

Message from the CEO

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to 2020, this year has certainly started with some significant events, most particularly the bush fires interstate. I would like to acknowledge the amazing work that the emergency services have done in responding to the fires and the tireless spirits of the many volunteers that we have seen contributing to the bush fire efforts.

It is events like these that demonstrate the power of volunteers in our communities, and their amazing efforts as fire fighters, paramedics, first aid, community support and wildlife rescue, thank you.

It is a pleasure to welcome some new faces to our organisation, Dr Edward Archer has joined as our new Chief Medical Officer. Dr Archer will assume clinical oversight for our organisation and its future direction.

We have also gained eight new recruits to our ambulance service, five as fully trained paramedics and three as interns. They have all been in the Casuarina Station over the last few weeks on an induction program, learning how to work with our equipment, manage difficult situations and familiarising themselves with the Territory. From here, they will take roles in our stations across the Territory gaining valuable experience not only as paramedics but as members of those communities.

In other news, we have also been witness to several cases where members of the public have stepped in and helped someone with CPR or first aid, a timely reminder of the importance of first aid training. We know through our own training courses that these lifesaving skills can help give you confidence to respond in the time of an emergency and in some instances could mean the difference of life or death.

Something worth considering as we embark on a new year, have you done first aid training or is it up to date?

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


First aid saves Territory toddlers

Several cases already this year have highlighted the importance of knowing first aid and how it can save lives.

Well known performer Greg Page, also known as the “Yellow Wiggle”, received urgent treatment by a member of the public after collapsing on stage, while here in the Territory two young children have been saved by the quick responses of those around them. Just after Christmas, 21 month old baby Liam of Herbert suffered a sudden allergic reaction to something while playing in the garden, his mother noticed his face swelling and him vomiting. She quickly used an Epi-Pen and dialed Triple Zero (000).

Less than a week later, Liam had made a full recovery from an anaphylaxis reaction and visited the St John NT paramedics who helped save his life.

On New Year’s eve, another toddler, Cherize, had been found unresponsive in a swimming pool.

The child’s mother, Zolie, and a neighbour, who was a registered nurse, immediately commenced effective CPR until St John NT paramedics arrived, resulting in the child’s survival.

Paul Bellman, Regional Manager Southern said at the time “there can be no more of an important reminder of knowing how to apply effective first aid and CPR.

“The actions of Zolie and her neighbour have set the right conditions for our paramedics to assist in saving Cherize, the importance of these skills cannot be under estimated.”

Both families were keen to share their stories as a reminder of the importance of knowing first aid and how to be ready to respond should an incident arise.

New recruits to the 000 Stork Club

We were recently pleased to induct two new members to the 000 Stork Club.

This exclusive club recognises St John NT Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) for their outstanding assistance in the successful delivery of a baby over the phone before an ambulance arrives.

In 2019 St John NT received 230 calls for expectant mothers in labour, of these, six babies were delivered with assistance from one of our EMDs over the phone.

Our newest Triple Zero (000) Stork Club members include David Scaife and Sally Peart. David and Sally both assisted in the delivery of baby boy’s, through providing childbirth instruction over the phone.

The Triple Zero (000) callers were in very capable hands when Emergency Communication Supervisor, David Scaife answered the call for an expectant mother in labour. After only three minutes, David used his experience as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher to calmly instruct an expectant father on how to assist his partner in the delivery of his son.

Sally, a Trainee Emergency Medical Dispatcher, had only been handling Triple Zero (000) calls for less than a month when she received her call. Under the supervision of her very experienced mentor, Michael Hatfield, she required no assistance in helping another expectant couple deliver their first child.

Both operators were presented with a Stork badge and award, well done and congratulations to the new parents.

CEO Commendation – Henbury Station Bus Crash

A number of staff in Alice Springs were recently acknowledged with CEO Commendations for their response to the Henbury Station bus crash.

In November 2019, members of the St John NT Ambulance Operations in the Southern Region were called to respond to a multi-agency incident involving a bus crash and subsequent casualties on the Ernest Giles Road near Henbury Station.

The team quickly mobilised resources to assess, treat and manage a total of 21 patients, 13 requiring transport and four in either a critical or serious condition.

The incident demonstrated the professionalism and commitment of St John NT Paramedics, Commanders and Communications staff to quickly respond and meet the challenges of a mass casualty incident in a remote location while working in cooperation with Police, remote health centre staff, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and retrieval doctors.

First Aid in Schools goes back to school

Did you know that St John NT provides free first aid lessons to schools and community groups?

Getting ready for the school year, Community Educator Hayley Edge explains that first aid skills give people the confidence to act in an emergency through practical actions and easy to follow step-by-step plans.

“We aim to create an awareness of first aid as a lifesaving skill as well as developing these important skills in the community,” she said.

St John NT’s Community Education program provides lessons for childcare, early learning centres, community groups as well as schools with its First Aid in Schools program.

“There is no better place to start than in our schools. Every child in the Territory should have access to vital first aid knowledge and with the First Aid in Schools program this is possible,” she said.

In 2019, St John NT's First Aid in Schools program was delivered to 10,700 students in urban and remote schools across the Territory, equipping them with vital skills to help in an emergency; skills that could save a life.

That’s 10,768 students who now have the skills to:

  • treat a nose bleed,
  • bandage a wound,
  • treat a burn,
  • treat a snake or spider bite,
  • send for help - who to go to for help and how to call an ambulance in an emergency,
  • manage an unconscious patient, and
  • perform CPR and use a defibrillator (year 5 and up).

“Through this program, St John NT is reaching its goal of making first aid part of every Territorian's life.”

Restocking program assists wildlife rescue

Reclaimed first aid supplies in the Northern Territory are being donated to wildlife rescue organisations for the treatment of animals affected by this summer’s devastating bush fires.

St John NT collects out of date or near use by date medical supplies as it restocks first aid kits for businesses across the Northern Territory.

The items are then sorted and anything that can assist in the treatment of animals is passed onto local volunteer organisation Wildlife Crisis and Trauma Relief NT.

Founder Ms Bree Keirnan says that their aim is to help the carers of the injured wildlife.

“Medical supplies for rescued animals can be extremely expensive, if we can help them care for the animals by sourcing the supplies they need, we are helping to remove the cost burden while these tragically injured animals recover,” she said.

St John NT’s restocking program is part of its free advice service to assist businesses for first aid readiness. Under the Work Health and Safety Act a person conducting a business has a duty of care to follow a Code of Conduct regarding First Aid in the workplace. This includes assessing the types of risk, the supply and maintenance of first aid equipment, adequate signage and training.

St John NT Director of Commercial Operations Peter Sargeant said that too many businesses neglected to have a first aid plan in place until the situation arose.

“If we wait until an emergency it could be too late. All workplaces should consider their workplace health and safety risks, having a first aid kit available and ideally a person trained in administrating first aid.

“St John NT is pleased to see that the reclaimed supplies continue to provide a benefit after they are removed from companies’ first aid kits and that, in a small way, we too are helping the bush fire response.”

Upcoming first aid courses

Parap, NT
First Aid for the Mind (2 Day)
February 10th - 11th

Casuarina, NT
CHCSSS019 Recognise & respond to Crisis situations (Mental health and crisis support) (1 Day)
February 21st

Casuarina, NT
HLTWHS005 Conduct Manual Tasks Safely (1 Day)
February 25th

View all courses

History snapshot

History snapshot

40th Anniversary of Katherine Ambulance Service and Katherine Volunteers

This year is the 40th anniversary of St John Ambulance in Katherine. Having taken over the full ambulance service in Darwin from the Department of Health in the aftermath of cyclone Tracy, it was taken that St John would also progressively take over the ambulance services in regional centres throughout the Territory.

Alice Springs and Tennant Creek were taken over on 1st July 1979, and then it was Katherine’s turn. In those early days, ambulances were crewed 6.00am to 6.00pm weekdays by paid ambulance officers, then nights, weekends and public holidays by volunteers. Unlike the other centres which had long standing volunteer divisions to provide this need, there was no St John presence in Katherine prior to 1979. The first step was to recruit and train volunteers to provide this service. Initial training started in August 1979 and on 4th December the Mayor of Katherine, Pat Davies, presented certificates to 18 graduating volunteers.

A Regional Ambulance Officer, Allan Collins, had been employed and on Thursday 3rd January 1980 at 10.00am, Dr. G. Schroeder, Acting Medical Superintendent of Katherine Hospital, ceremonially handed the keys to Allan Collins and transferred the DOH ambulance service to St John Ambulance.

With adult volunteers formed into a division during 1980, the next step was to start a cadet division. Meetings for cadets started in May, with their division being registered the following year, 1981.

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


Did you know? – first aid advice

Did you know that heat related deaths are rated as one of the top natural disasters in the world. Do you know how to assist someone who has a heat induced condition?


If a person with heat exhaustion is not managed appropriately, they can develop heat stroke.


  • feeling hot, exhausted, weak, fatigued
  • persistent headache
  • thirst
  • nausea
  • faintness, dizziness
  • rapid breathing, shortness of breath
  • pale, cool, moist skin
  • rapid, weak pulse


  • Move the patient to a cool place with circulating air.
  • Help the patient to sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing from the patient, and loosen any tight clothing.
  • Sponge the patient with cold water.
  • Give the patient cool water to drink.
  • Seek medical aid if the patient vomits or does not recover quickly.

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