Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Jul

Message from the CEO

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to July, I trust that everyone is keeping well and safe in our new normal conditions.

In the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to get out of Darwin and visit our staff and volunteers across the Territory.

I have to say that it was really good to once again meet with people face to face and share their experiences of how we have managed the past few months. As an organisation we have had to adapt very quickly in how we deliver our services while keeping our communities, staff and volunteers safe.

I am so grateful for the energy and commitment everyone has shown in looking after the amazing place we call home.

I would also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our ambulance and St John volunteer colleagues interstate who continue to work in response to Covid-19. At the time of writing this, the Territory has enjoyed several weeks without an active case. As we move forward in the ‘new normal’ we must remain vigilant in our efforts and keep those who are still responding to the pandemic in our thoughts.

As we reopen the NT borders, it is important that we all do our part to keep the Territory safe. Practicing social distancing, proper hand hygiene, and staying home when unwell are small actions that will yield great results.

For now, let’s continue to enjoy the conditions in the Territory, say hi to our paramedics and volunteers who are once again out and about at events and stay safe.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


St John NT Excellence Awards

Nominations for the St John NT Excellence Awards are now open!

These annual awards celebrate and recognise the paramedics, staff, and volunteers of St John Ambulance Australia (NT) Inc. who demonstrate excellence in leadership or clinical practice, an outstanding level of care, professionalism, and compassion for members of the Northern Territory Community.

Last year, Aaron Reynolds was awarded the prestigious Paramedic of the Year award. Since joining St John NT in 2017, Aaron has worked in both Katherine and Darwin where he has built strong professional relationships within the community.

"Aaron is a compassionate and highly empathic prehospital clinician," St John NT CEO Judith Barker expressed. "He is well regarded by his peers and dedicated to his profession and the community."

We invite Territorians to nominate members of our ambulance team who demonstrate the St John NT values of integrity, respect, quality, dedication, and compassion.

"We have a highly skilled team of emergency medical dispatchers, patient transport officers, and paramedics," Judith stated. "This award program provides us an opportunity to hear from our community about the great work done by our crews."

To nominate a St John NT staff member for these prestigious awards, please download the nomination form and return it to nominations@stjohnnt.asn.au by Wednesday, 30 September.

To learn more about the St John NT Excellence Awards, please click here.

Not your average classroom

If you thought first aid courses were all about chest compressions on a dummy, think again. Our first aid trainers make sure students walk away with a strong understanding of just how "gory" some situations may be.

Moulage, or applying mock injuries for the purpose of training, can be expected in Advanced First Aid and Remote First Aid courses. The practice of moulage helps students visualise what an actual injury may look like and how best to treat it. St John NT trainer Daniel MacMillan has a lot of tricks up his sleeve to make the injuries look realistic, including the use of tissues, rice noodles, and sausages – not to mention the other strategies he uses to give students a realistic experience.

"Staging a scene is another option we use to mimic a real life situation," Daniel explained. "I once did a course in a remote community where we arranged a vehicle accident in a creek. We staged the scene with a driver in the car, engine running, and music blaring."

"Students arrived on scene to provide first aid to the driver and passenger. They only had one first aid kit, but the improvising aspect was strongly encouraged. We had trees being cut down for splints, paperbark being ripped off trees for padding, and leaves being used for securing injuries. I needed to stop them from ripping off the car bonnet to use as a stretcher but everything else went really well."

Realistic injuries and scenarios provide students with a strong skillset in responding to emergency situations. However, playing the role of a causality provides a unique perspective on how situations and injuries should be treated. Observing how others approach emergency scenes strengthens the students’ understanding of the protocols.

"It can be quite beneficial to be the causality so I will usually find a way to make sure everyone in the class has the opportunity," Daniel stated. "The varying acting abilities play a huge part, too. Some people need very little moulage to sell an injury, which makes the class more entertaining for everyone."

First aid is a lifesaving skills, and trainers at St John NT are dedicated to ensuring their students are confident to react to a myriad of situations. We are excited to have all of our first aid courses available once again in all regions of the Territory. To sign up for a St John NT first aid course, please visit our courses page.

Maria’s Story

Five years ago, Maria Vescan and her husband said goodbye to their life in Israel and made the big move to Darwin. As exciting as the move was, settling in a city of strangers was no easy feat. While they adapted to living in a brand new country, Maria decided to sign up for a first aid course. Little did she know that her life in Darwin was about to take off.

"When I was at the course, I received a brochure for volunteering with St John NT," Maria reflected. "It sparked my interest as I thought it would be a great way to meet people and socialise since I barely knew anyone in Darwin."

Without a second of hesitation, Maria dove into the St John NT volunteer community. She eagerly completed all training courses on offer, eventually becoming an advanced responder. With over a dozen courses and certificates under her belt, Maria is well equipped to manage emergency situations of all kinds.

"This training has made me confident to help people in distress," Maria began. "I love interacting with patients and working in stressful situations where I can utilise my skills and solve complex problems."

Throughout the years, Maria has continued to assume leadership positions throughout St John NT. Not only is she an advanced responder, but she is also a divisional officer, a peer support officer, and a qualified trainer and assessor. Whenever the Territory is in need of assistance, Maria enthusiastically volunteers her time to help.

"St John NT volunteers go out on public duties and also assist in times of natural disaster," Maria explained. "I’ve only been here five years, but I’ve experienced two cyclones in which I’ve helped with manning shelters."

Though Maria joined St John NT as a way to make new friends, the organisation has since become an important part of her life. From training her to provide first aid at events across the Territory to fostering a sense of community, St John NT has helped Maria make Darwin her new home.

"I consider my Darwin Division so much more than friends," she shared. "They’re like my second family."

Do you want to make a difference in your community? St John NT has a range of volunteer opportunities all across the Territory. If you are ready to build your story, contact St John NT at (08) 8922 6205 or volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au. For more information, please visit our volunteers page.


St John Day Celebrations

Last month we celebrated the birth of our namesake St John the Baptist with a special church service at the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Darwin.

In addition to celebrating our namesake, this special day also celebrates our tenacious history as an organisation. What began as a modest hospice in Jerusalem has flourished into an international charity.  The early Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem adopted the motto ‘pro utilitate hominum’, meaning for the service of mankind. This motto has survived the test of time and remains evident in the actions by each and every St John volunteer.

“To this day, St John volunteers remain dedicated to helping and caring for others,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker said. “In the Northern Territory we have seen how quickly our volunteers were willing to adapt to the changing circumstances, brought about by Covid-19, and enthusiastically learnt new skills in preparation for the pandemic.”

The Colour Party is one of the highest formal roles in which members can engage. It is well drilled and practiced before commencing the formal procession. Each Colour Party is made up of the colour bearer, who carries the flag, and two escorts. This year, the St John Day Colour Party consisted of volunteer/patient transport officer Tyrone Lelea escorted by Territory Officer Patrick Murray and paramedic Amanda Coleman. The Cadet Colour Party consisted of Cadet Maddi Carrier escorted by Darwin Superintendent Melissa Crompton and Cadet Hailey Ferguson.

“The Bishop held a beautiful service,” Judith expressed. “It was humbling to hear such kind words about our volunteers and about our organisation.”

Joining the Colour Party to commemorate St John Day was the Deputy Prior of the Order, NT, Her Honour the Administrator of the Northern Territory Vicki O’Halloran AO, our Patron Mr Craig O’Halloran, Commissioner Mark Ferguson, and Director Volunteer Services Annette Plowman.

“I would like to thank everyone who joined us in celebrating this important day,” Judith said. “Whether you were able to attend the church service in person or viewed the service online, I thank you for your continued support of St John NT.”


History snapshot by Frank Dunstan

St John Ambulance’s formation in Alice Springs

History snapshot


Soon after a division of the St John Ambulance Brigade had been established in Darwin in late 1952, Superintendent Norman Bradbury and Surgeon Lieut. O’Donohue RN travelled down the track conducting first aid training mainly for Department of Civil Aviation personnel at Daly Waters, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. This resulted in a division being formed in Alice Springs in December 1952 and first aid groups in the other centres. The Alice Springs division was registered on 8th July 1954, but sadly, enthusiasm soon waned and with just one remaining volunteer, Bradbury reluctantly closed the division in March 1956.

The loss of first aid cover was sorely felt at the various sporting events, and in October 1960 the Alice Springs First Aid Group was formed to fill this void. The group was accepted into the St John Ambulance Brigade in April 1961 and registered as the Alice Springs Combined Division three months later.

There were cadets in the division from the very start, but not enough to form their own division for many years. Finally, they were able to recruit sufficient boys and girls to break away in October 1977. The Alice Springs Combined Cadet Division was registered on 29 March 1978, and sanctioned by the Chief Commissioner four months later.

St John Ambulance took over the full Darwin ambulance service from the Department of Health on Christmas Day 1974 in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, with the intention that they would later take over in regional areas. The Northern Territory achieved self-government on 1st July 1978, and on 1st July 1979 St John took over the ambulance services in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Did you know that 200,000 Australians suffer burns each year? The World Health Organisation says that despite burns being preventable, they are a global health problem.

Burn or Scald

If you are treating any burn or scald, do not apply lotions, ointments, fat, or ice. It is also important to avoid touching the injured areas or burst any blisters. Do not remove anything sticking to the burn and, if the burn is larger than a 20 cent piece or deep, seek medical aid immediately.


If the patient’s clothing is on fire...

  1. Stop the patient from moving around
  2. Drop the patient to the ground and cover or wrap them in a blanket or similar, if available
  3. Roll the patient along the ground until the flames are extinguished
  4. Manage the burn (see below)

For all burns...

  1. If the burn is severe or involves the airway, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance
  2. Hold the burnt area under cool running water for 20 minutes as soon as possible
  3. Remove any clothing and jewelry from the burnt area, unless they are stuck to the burn
  4. Cover the burn with a light, loose nonstick dressing, preferably clean, dry, non-fluffy material
  5. Continue to monitor the patient

Upcoming first aid courses

We’re pleased to announce that our first aid training has resumed throughout the Territory. Classes are filling up quickly, so don’t hesitate to sign up!

Casuarina, NT
Manual Handling
20 August
Book this course today.

Parap, NT
First Aid for the Mind
27-28 August
Book this course today.

Casuarina, NT
Mental Health and Crisis Support
31 August
Book this course today.

View all courses

History snapshot

10 ways to prepare for the borders opening

In a few short weeks, the Territory’s borders will reopen to visitors from across the country. While some Territorians have been quietly pleased to have the Territory to themselves others are excited to once again meet with interstate family and friends and support our local businesses with increased visitation. Either way, it’s always good to be prepared especially in our new normal conditions. Here’s our top 10 on being prepared:

  1. Make sure your vehicle is serviced and prepared to show those southerners what a real 4WD track looks like
  2. Be sure your off-road first aid kit is up-to-date just in case...
  3. Sign up for a free Baby and Child first aid lesson so that you’re well prepared when your nieces and nephews arrive
  4. Say hi to our volunteers at the Mindil Markets as you call in for your Sunday dinner
  5. Tempt your loved ones to stay in the Territory by showing them the amazing career opportunities available
  6. Keep a bottle of St John hospital grade hand sanitiser in every room, vehicle, office, and bag to help prevent the potential spread of disease
  7. Remind your guests to maintain a social distance of one juvenile freshwater crocodile (or three frill-necked lizards) during their visit
  8. Sign up for a remote first aid course to keep you and your loved ones safe no matter where in the Territory you may venture to
  9. Download the St John First Responder App to quickly locate a lifesaving AED or to help Triple Zero (000) find you in an emergency
  10. And finally, make sure you do your part in keeping the Territory safe. It is more important than ever that we do not become complacent and continue to practice social distancing and hand hygiene. St John NT retail shops will continue to supply hospital grade hand sanitiser and other personal protective equipment to help the Territory remain the safest place in Australia. Visit our retail shop at 416 Stuart Hwy in Winnellie or in Alice Springs on Allchurch Street or contact us at sales@stjohnnt.asn.au to learn more and remember that all sales support our volunteer service.

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