The St John NT Monthly Newsletter
It has been a very busy period for St John Ambulance Australia (NT) in terms of celebrations and launches.
On 19 July St John Ambulance Australia (NT) launched its “Hands Off” initiative. This initiative is aimed at promoting the right of every paramedic to come to work and feel safe. Every year, on average one in six Territorians uses an ambulance and our paramedics attend more than 52,000 cases across the NT. To be able to care for those in need and help our community, our paramedics need to be able to do their job uninterrupted and in a safe environment but unfortunately this does not always happen.
We celebrated St John Day on June 24 with a lovely service at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral Darwin conducted by the Reverend Dr Keith Joseph. After the service our cadets paraded on the forecourt of Parliament House before attending a morning tea hosted by the Honourable Kezia Purick, Speaker of the House and attended by the Honourable Natasha Fyles, Minister of Health. We were delighted to have Chancellor Professor Mark Compton and National CEO Len Fiori join us for the celebration.
At the annual Health Expo held at the Darwin Waterfront on Saturday July 14 we launched our new CPR Van. In Australia only 1 in 10 persons survives a cardiac arrest. In a bid to increase survival rates, St John Ambulance NT’s new CPR Van aims to provide free CPR training to the public. The hands-on CPR demonstrations will give the Territorians of all age groups the skills and confidence to administer CPR and potentially save a life.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the upcoming retirement of Denis Rayner, Director of Volunteer Services and thank him for his years of dedicated service. Denis will be leaving us on 17 August 2018.
Staff at the Joint Emergency Services Communications Centre took a total of 1792 phone calls in response to Territory Day celebrations. In the six-hour window between 6pm and midnight, a whopping 1250 calls were taken.
Emergency Medical Dispatcher Luke ran St John Ambulance communications from Mindil Markets.
Meanwhile, a St John Ambulance crew travelled to Palmerston’s Urgent Care After Hours Service Clinic for an 11-year-old-girl with burns to her hand. It is believed the girl suffered the burns in a fire that was sparked by a fire cracker.
At the same time a man was hit by a firecracker in the groin near the Darwin Casino.
Our crews at the new St John Ambulance Station in Katherine loved catching up with Sandra Nelson, Member for Katherine, and the Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, who called in for a visit in early July.
Later in the month, Natasha Fyles took the time to visit Tennant Creek Ambulance Station.
She also joined the Darwin crews for a ride-along in July.
In early July, St John Ambulance staff hosted Her Honour, The Administrator of the Northern Territory, Vicki O’Halloran, and her husband Craig - the Patron of St John Ambulance NT - at Casuarina Station.
Her Honour was given a tour around the station, enjoyed afternoon tea with the team and got to have a close look at the new St John Ambulance CPR Van. Later in July, Her Honour and her husband enjoyed a ride-along in the Ambulance Command Vehicle.
Her Honour got to visit the Palmerston, Casuarina and Parap Ambulance Stations and mingled with paramedics and patient transport crews.
Her Honour also visited Alice Springs Ambulance Station and showed her support for St John Ambulance’s ‘Hands Off’ initiative.
As part of the free First Aid in Schools program, the children worked through the DRSABCD action plan, learnt about nose bleed, burns and 000 and were put through scenarios to learn vital first aid skills that could one day save a life.
Throughout July, St John Ambulance staff joined the Show circuit, providing first aid services to their communities, giving free CPR training to the public and selling merchandise to raise much-needed funds for St John volunteers.
Volunteering her time with St John Ambulance to teach crucial life-saving skills, Dawn Bat put her own teachings to the test at the Royal Darwin Show, when a little boy had a seizure while visiting the Show with his siblings and parents.
Intensive care paramedic Warren Purse said the boy had suffered a seizure before having a period of apnoea that saw him stop breathing.
“It’s fairly common in babies and little ones as they haven’t got a developed heat regulator in the body,” Mr Purse said.
“It could have been life-threatening if he didn’t cool down.”
The 16-month-old boy’s parents reacted quickly to their baby’s condition, carrying him to the St John Ambulance stall in Foskey Pavillon, where volunteer first aider Dawn Bat was giving free CPR training.
St John Ambulance first aiders administered first aid, cared for the boy and cooled him down until paramedics arrived.
The boy was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital in a stable condition.
St John Ambulance praised the efforts of showgoers, bystanders and stallholders - including an off-duty nurse - involved in helping the family.
St John Ambulance staff, including CEO Judith Barker, attended the NAIDOC Week flag raising ceremony at Larrakia Nation in Darwin. St John Ambulance also hosted a NAIDOC morning tea at the Casuarina Ambulance station, proudly joined by the designer of the Aboriginal flag, Harold Thomas, and Bernard Namok Jnr whose dad Bernard Namok designed the Torres Strait and Islander flag in 1992.
Harold shared stories of his upbringing, and Teabba - Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association radio host Bernard spoke about his family history and shared the story of the Torres Strait and Islander flag with St John Ambulance staff.
Morning tea - served by Karen Sheldon Catering - included traditional Indigenous salt & pepper crocodile and kangaroo sandwiches.
St John Ambulance members also attended the NAIDOC festivities in Alice Springs and joined a large crowd that watched the Aboriginal flag being raised for the first time on Anzac Hill.
Tiny Gabrielle Alijah was only three months old when she suddenly stopped breathing.
It was the quick actions of her parents, bystanders and St John Ambulance paramedics that saved the baby’s life – a life that were be celebrated with Gabrielle’s christening in early July.
Her parents, Jonathan and Jovelyn Lora, had taken their baby to the Darwin Waterfront on July 1 – but the day of festivities and fireworks quickly turned into a nightmare, when Mrs Lora discovered her baby daughter ‘floppy’ and with blood on her nose.
“We looked at Gabby and she was lifeless and blue and floppy,” Gabrielle’s dad said.
“My wife was in distress and in panic, and I was shouting for a nurse or doctor.”
Mother-of-three Karlla Garling had just pulled up in a near-by carpark with her partner and three children, when she spotted Gabby’s parents in distress. “I knew straight away that something was wrong,” she said. “I got out of the driver’s seat and rushed to the family. The baby was lifeless and her mum was screaming that her baby was gone.”
Ms Garling grabbed the baby and put it over her shoulder, gently patting little Gabby’s back.
“It was the scariest thing ever,” she said. “It wasn’t a good sight.”
With no phone on him, Mr Lora borrowed a bystander’s mobile phone to call St John Ambulance and conveyed instructions he received from the St John Emergency Medical Dispatcher.
“I was very worried because Gabby was lifeless while Karlla was holding her,” he said.
But within a minute the little girl started breathing again, still dropping in and out of consciousness.
“Karlla was very focussed, speaking to Gabby to make sure she stayed alert and at the same time following instructions coming from me that came from the ambulance.
“She did everything she could to ensure she was helping Gabby who was gasping for air.
“Karlla was very strong-willed which helped me get through the ordeal which is a parent’s worst nightmare.
“No words can express her actions and support in getting through this ordeal. She helped us keep our baby alive.“
When St John Ambulance paramedic Sue-Ellen Skinner arrived minutes after receiving the call, she found baby Gabby conscious in Ms Garling’s arms.
“Gabby’s breathing was still very flat,” the paramedic said. “We rushed her straight to Royal Darwin Hospital.”
Mr Lora said he was grateful for the help his baby received from complete strangers.
“Karlla, together with Krystal whose phone I borrowed, are Gabby’s angels.
“Every help counts - and that is what got us through.
“As the ambulance arrived it was a relief because I knew we were in the professional hands of the paramedics who did their work straight away.”
St John Ambulance has nominated Karlla Garling for a Save-a-Life Award for her quick actions in helping baby Gabby.
Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky day for a Katherine man, when his heart stopped pumping while attending an event at Marrara yesterday - and bystanders jumped into action to save his life.
The 62-year-old man was at a convention at the gymnastics stadium at Marrara Sporting Complex with about 3000 people when he collapsed and suffered a form of cardiac arrest at around 10.30am. Off-duty Intensive Care Paramedic Toby Bugter, who also attended the event, said it was the quick reactions of two young women, believed to be nurses, who saved the man’s life.
“The ladies did a fantastic job,” Mr Bugter said. “They recognised what was happening, knew what to do and jumped into action.”
The paramedic said the immediate commencement of CPR saved the man.
“If this had happened at home, he probably wouldn’t be alive today.”
The man was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital in the care of St John Ambulance paramedics. Intensive Care Paramedic and Acting Regional Manager Warren Purse praised the joint effort of the bystanders and paramedics.
“It was a great team effort by everyone involved - and the quick actions made the outcome such a good one,” Mr Purse said.
The incident happened only a day prior to the official launch of St John NT’s new CPR van which aims to provide free CPR training to the public. In Australia only one in 10 persons survives a cardiac arrest. In a bid to increase survival rates, St John Ambulance NT’s new CPR Van is set to offer hands-on CPR demonstrations and training that will give the Territorians of all age groups the skills and confidence to administer CPR and potentially save a life. St John Ambulance CEO, Judith Barker, said for many people the thought of performing CPR was daunting, but a bystander’s actions could mean the different between life and death.
“Every minute that a person is left without CPR their chances of survival reduce by seven to 10 per cent,” Ms Barker said.
“If the right treatment is given in the first three to five minutes, chances of survival increase from 6 per cent to 74 per cent.”
“Many people are scared to administer CPR to someone suffering a cardiac arrest because they are afraid they may cause further damage or injury. However, with the right training knowledge and training, we’re hoping that people will feel more confident about administering CPR.”
The St John Ambulance CPR Van - which is equipped with six CPR manikins and a screen that shows participants’ performance - will visit community events and schools all over the Northern Territory to teach skills and increase confidence to potentially save a life.
For the first time St John Ambulance has hosted an Aurora Project Internship Student. The Aurora Project’s Internship program, now in its 13th year of operation, focuses on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates via funded internships as pathways to jobs through practical placement opportunities in a bid to facilitate professional development by building career experiences and opportunities in individuals’ area of study.
The Aurora Project vision is a future where there is no education gap and where the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians achieve equitable participation at the highest level – in the professions, in boardrooms and across government. Young Indigenous student Carrington Bond, who is studying at the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney, is just finishing up her six-week placement in Alice Springs.
Currently completing her final year of a Bachelor of Paramedicine, the internship with St John Ambulance aimed to give Carrington a better understanding of rural and Indigenous health in Central Australia. Carrington’s placement was the first time a Paramedicine student has successfully gained an internship with an Ambulance service and St John were proud to be a host organisation.
Andrew Everingham, Regional Manager Ambulance Operations - Southern Region, said Carrington had been a fantastic Aurora Intern and would be missed by the team. “We wish Carrington all the best for the completion of her studies and her career as a Paramedic,” Mr Everingham said.
Carrington said she was grateful for the opportunity.
“Thank you to all who have supported me along the way and made this placement possible. It has been awesome.”
A joint St John Ambulance and NTFRS team flew to Warragul at the end of July to compete against 17 teams from across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong in the 2018 Australasian Road Rescue Challenge. The competition comprised of a symposium, covering the latest developments in both medical and extrication techniques in relation to road rescue, with the team challenges and scenarios being held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Justin Blomeley, the Medic representing St John Ambulance NT as part of the Northern Territory Fire & Rescue Service team, said his team faced three team challenges and two trauma scenarios.
“This is a great event and learning opportunity that signifies the importance of inter-service operability, especially in areas such as the NT where we are often limited with resources,” Mr Blomeley said.
“I aim to be able to bring back these learning experiences to further add to our current Road Crash skill set that we can encompass these into everyday practice.”
On July 24, St John Ambulance Humpty Doo Cadets celebrated 20 years of operation.
In late July St John Ambulance paramedics took part in an Emergency Exercise at Alice Springs airport. The exercise featured a simulated B737 aircraft crash that resulted in a fire with injured and deceased passengers. As a Civil Aviation Safety Authority - CASA requirement, field exercises are conducted to ensure that the airport Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting services and all external emergency services are prepared in the event of a real emergency.
Alice Springs Airport General Manager Dave Batic said realism was an important factor when running a field exercise.
“The aim of these exercises is to give our emergency procedures a work-out, testing roles and responsibilities, and making sure the airport and agencies are well-equipped to work together,” he said.
As well as St John Ambulance paramedics and Aviation Rescue Firefighters, the exercise included NT Police, NT Fire and Rescue Service and NT Emergency Service, which all used the opportunity to test their own responses. Red Cross representatives played a key role in assisting management of passengers and relatives, which is a critical component during any real life crisis.
St John Ambulance CEO Judith Barker said the occasion that brought paramedics, police, first responders and the general public together was not a happy one.
“We are here today to raise awareness and create public support of safe work environments for paramedics,” Ms Barker said.
“Less than a week ago a female off-duty paramedic was stabbed in a horrendous attack in Victoria. She was putting her young daughters in the car when a man tried to cut her throat. Ambulance Victoria believe the attack was targeted at the woman because she was wearing a uniform ... The same uniform we are wearing here today.”
Every year, on average one in six Territorians uses an ambulance and our paramedics attend more than 52,000 cases across the NT.
“To be able to care for those in need and help our community, our paramedics need to be able to do their job uninterrupted and in a safe environment.
“Our paramedics don’t come to work to get assaulted. And they should not have to worry about their safety.
“Give our paramedics space to save lives. Allow our paramedics to go out in public in their uniform and wear it as proudly as I am wearing mine here today. It is never okay to assault first responders.”
Stand with our paramedics, and show your support. Follow us on social media and use our Hands Off Facebook profile picture frame, download our Hands Off posters from our website and take photos with our banners.