Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 May

Message from the CEO

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to May, I trust that you are well and managing the challenges in these very unusual times. It is pleasing to see that the Territory has had no new cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks and is now ready to start easing restrictions.

After moving meetings to online and some staff working from home we will certainly welcome the opportunity to once again meet with people face to face and recommence our training and volunteer programs.

Over the last month, we have managed to continue providing first aid products and equipment through our retail stores and have adapted some of our courses to an online environment during the restrictions. We have received an excellent response to our free online Baby and Child First Aid courses as well as online First Aid training with one-on-one assessments, demonstrating a keen interest in the community to continue to learn or refresh their first aid skills.

I would like to thank the organisations and businesses who have helped us to quickly respond to the required changes or provided other support to ensure that we can continue to provide services in our community.

St John NT has joined the global movement #GivingTuesdayNow to recognise people around the world who have shown their generosity and support during the response to COVID-19. 

The campaign kicks off in Australia on 5 May, during a global day of action, to connect with communities around the world that are giving back.

For the following Tuesdays in May, Australians will continue to give back, with a focus on giving thanks, giving local, giving time, and giving together.

As a self-funded charitable and volunteer organisation we understand the importance and value of being connected to our community and the benefits of working together to provide support and assistance particularly when people need it most.

As we move towards the “new normal” we will keep you updated through our newsletters, website and social media channels. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy being able to visit our parks and meet up with friends.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


National Volunteer Week

A message from Annette Plowman, Director of Volunteering, Events & Community Education

This month we celebrate National Volunteer Week commencing on 18 May. The theme for National Volunteer Week 2020 is Changing Communities, Changing Lives – a theme that perfectly embodies the volunteers at St John NT. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our volunteers for the dedication they show to the wellbeing of all Territorians.

In 2018/19, our volunteers dedicated over 36,000 hours providing crucial first aid at events across the Territory. Because of this dedication, 887 events were able to safely take place. This year, our event calendar looks a little different. Even with fewer events in the first half of the year, our volunteers have remained dedicated to the mission of St John NT by upskilling through our Ambulance Assist program, attending virtual division nights, and by sharing skills with their peers.

From the 18th to the 24th of May, communities across Australia are banding together to thank volunteers and to express pride in being a volunteer by colouring their communities red. During this week, we invite all St John NT supporters to participate in this movement by wearing red or by hanging something red in front of their home.

At St John NT, we are extremely grateful for the amazing work done by each and every one of our volunteers. Thank you for the positive impact you have in your local communities and throughout the Territory.

Help us keep your family safe

While this year has brought about many changes, one priority has never wavered – the health and well-being of your family and community. At St John NT, we are ready to care for all Territorians but we need your help to ensure your family’s safety. Each year, more than 30,000 Australians suffer a sudden cardiac arrest out of hospital. If a cardiac arrest patient has access to effective CPR and early defibrillation, the chance of survival is high. However, with each minute that passes without intervention, the chance of survival decreases by 10%. While paramedics are typically able to arrive on scene within 10 minutes or less, few cardiac arrest patients survive more than eight minutes without defibrillation or effective CPR.

"Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to people of any age without any warning,” St John NT Director Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas explained. “One of the most harmful misconceptions is that sudden cardiac arrest is the same as a heart attack when even young, otherwise healthy people can be affected."

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating, unlike a heart attack which is caused by the blockage of an artery. There is no definite way to know one’s absolute risk, but having access to a defibrillator greatly increases one’s chance of survival in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. Having a unit in the home is as important to a family’s safety as having a basic first aid kit.

"It is impossible to know who may experience sudden cardiac arrest or when it might happen,"" Andrew stated. "We urge Territorians to help us in keeping our community safe by having a defibrillator in the home. The time saved by having a personal defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death."

To help drastically increase the number of defibrillators in the Territory, St John NT is urging families to invest in a life-saving device by offering $200 off the Lifepak CR2 Essential package and the Heartsine 360P.

Each unit is easy to use and offers clear step-by-step directions. While the Heartsine 360P is the perfect unit for the home, the Lifepak CR2 Essential package includes a wall mounted cabinet and other tools that make it a great fit for neighbourhood blocks.

"We hope to see communities band together for the greater good," Andrew said. "This is a great opportunity for neighbours to bring a defibrillator to their community, or to work with the body corporate to supply a unit for the building. The more accessible defibrillators are, the more lives that can be saved."

To purchase, or for more information, please visit this page and use promo code AED2020.

To learn where the nearest defibrillator is anywhere in the Territory, download the free St John First Responder app from Apple’s app store or Google Play.

Honouring Heroes in Unprecedented Times

Many traditions and celebrations have faced changes during the COVID-19 pandemic - from the postponement of favourite Territory events to spending the Easter holiday locked indoors. When traditional ANZAC Day marches and events were cancelled, however, Territorians remained determined to commemorate and honour those who have served.

St John NT Cadet Anais Henry-Martin typically looks forward to participating in ANZAC Day marches and events alongside her peers. This year, however, the 13-year-old was able to pay a unique tribute to her personal heroes and all ANZAC members.

"I played The Last Post and The Rouse on the saxophone for all past and current ANZAC members," Anais shared. "My neighbourhood was dark and quiet at 6:00am, but a few people came out to the street and some on their balconies. I even heard a trumpet playing in the distance. We weren’t in time with each other, but that made it even more special."

The talented musician has been playing the saxophone since inspired by Lisa Simpson in 2016. Anais first began playing with the NT Music School concert band ensemble program. Soon thereafter, she was accepted into the Rock School program as one of the youngest members in the Territory. She plays many exciting venues throughout the region, including the BEAT Festival and Mindil Beach Markets, but playing to the small gathering of neighbours may have been the most special performance yet.

"As a saxophonist and as a girl, I don’t normally get the opportunity to play on ANZAC Day," Anais explained. "The job is usually given to boys or men who play the bugle, cornet, or trumpet. I felt proud and lucky to be able to represent St John NT and commemorate ANZACs in this way."

While these unprecedented times may have called upon us to change the way in which we honoured our defence service men and women, many Territorians continued to acknowledge and commemorate those who have served. Whatever your ANZAC Day may have looked like, we hope you were able to find your own way to celebrate our service heroes.


Passionate, compassionate, and caring: Kylie Gullefer celebrates 10 years with St John NT

Paramedics at St John NT spend every day on the front line providing compassionate, life-saving care to Territorians. Kylie Gullefer, a paramedic in the northern region, is no exception. Kylie has spent the last 10 years dedicated to providing outstanding care to her community. Kylie’s dedication and compassion, however, extends far beyond that.

Kylie is passionate about caring for all living beings – from the smallest gecko to her own patients. Both in uniform and out of uniform, she has never missed an opportunity to care for any person or animal that requires her help. In fact, Kylie is famous around St John NT for her annual fundraiser benefitting animal shelters.

"We all look forward to Christmas time as Kylie makes Christmas epaulettes that we proudly wear during the festive season," Duty Manager Amanda Reibelt shared. "Kylie pours her heart and soul into making and presenting these epaulettes with 100% of the proceeds going to animal shelters. Kylie’s dedicated and empathetic nature have proven to be some of her most admirable traits that have served her well in the paramedicine field here in the NT for the last 10 years. Congratulations and thank you for your service Kylie."

Thank you Kylie for the amazing work you do at St John NT. We are proud to have you on our team.


Reskilling in the face of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of change and uncertainty to the Northern Territory over the past couple months. As Territorians honoured the social distancing restrictions, St John NT was busy providing pre-hospital care for the few positive cases and proactively preparing for any outbreaks. To ensure our frontline staff were able and ready to respond to the virus, a few familiar faces put on the sharp, green uniform.

As our first aid training slowed to a halt, several of our first aid trainers were redeployed as patient transport officers (PTOs). In this role, the former trainers were able to use their extensive first aid knowledge while experiencing what life is like on the frontline. Chris Trotter, a full time trainer and the Superintendent of the volunteers’ Casuarina Adult Division, was one employee reskilled as a PTO during this time. His experience as a trainer and as a volunteer made his transition seamless, though there were some notable differences.

"In my previous roles, if you required assistance you would call Triple Zero (000)," Chris explained. "Now I am Triple Zero (000). The DRSABCD protocol has become DRABCD."

As St John NT slowly begins offering first aid training once again, the team looks forward to having Chris and other familiar faces back in the classrooms. Each of the reskilled trainers have had the opportunity to experience life on the frontline, but they’ve also learned a great deal to take back as first aid trainers.

"Being a PTO, even for a short time, gives me more insight on what they do and what they experience," Chris shared. "This will help me provide more accurate information to the general public in training and being able to explain the role of what a PTO does to the volunteers."


Meagan’s Story

From a young age, Meagan Morris was drawn to the idea of helping people in times of sickness, distress, suffering, or danger. However, as a child there seemed to be few opportunities for her explore this interest. Eager to support her community and learn more about healthcare, Meagan joined St John NT volunteers as a Cadet.

“My parents were heavily involved in volunteering in our community and I always wanted to find a way to give back like they did,” Meagan explained. “St John NT was a great avenue to give back and expand upon my passion for healthcare.”

Meagan’s involvement began with learning how to act in an emergency situation. Once she learned basic first aid and CPR, Meagan continued to upskill in first aid at her own convenience. As she became more confident with her own skills, Meagan was able to take the lead in providing first aid at events as well as teach the next generation life-saving skills.

“I once helped a young kid clear some dirt from his eyes at a muddy speedway event,” Meagan shared. “He and his parents were so trusting of our uniform. Whenever I saw them at the speedway after that, they’d always say hello and take interest in what the volunteers were doing. I was so happy that they had a good experience and trusted us to help.”

This interaction, and many like it, inspired Meagan. When it came time to decide on a career pathway, Meagan didn’t hesitate to leap into the healthcare industry. As a newly graduated registered nurse, Meagan is able to continue helping people both in the hospital and at community events as a St John NT volunteer.

“As a volunteer, I found my passion for building positive client relationships, teamwork, and caring for people in a vulnerable state,” Meagan stated. “I use the skills I’ve learned as a volunteer every day in nursing.”

Are you interested in working in healthcare? St John NT volunteers are exposed to many opportunities and gain incredible experience. 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 www.stjohnnt.org.au/volunteering.


First Aid Training

Is your first aid certificate up-to-date?

St John NT strives to make first aid a part of every Territorian’s life. In fact, last year we issued over 10,000 first aid certificates! As federal restrictions temporarily stalled the delivery of our courses, we are excited to announce that Territorian’s can now schedule their first aid training.

Throughout the month of May, St John NT is providing life-saving training in a blended delivery model in Darwin and Alice Springs. Territorians looking to renew their Provide First Aid or CPR certificates can sign up for an online training course with a short one-on-one assessment. This is the first stage of re-implementing first aid courses.

“We will continue to take the necessary precautions as we move forward to ensure the safety of Territorians,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker stated. “Classes will be held at a reduced capacity to minimise the sharing of equipment and to allow for appropriate social distance within the classroom.”

For those interested in participating in the blended training, please contact training@stjohnnt.asn.au. To keep up-to-date with courses as they become available, follow us on Facebook.


Keeping Families Safe with Community Education

When Australia transitioned to operating under social distancing restrictions, St John NT was faced with many changes to commercial operations. Community Education, a program aimed at providing free non-accredited first aid sessions for all Territorians, was one of the programs to be postponed until further notice. As the Community Education team began supporting St John NT in other roles, they were reminded of just how important providing these lessons can be.

“A mum who had attended our Baby and Child program told us that she used the skills we taught her to save the life of her choking infant,” Community Education Officer Hayley Edge shared. “Seeing how quickly an emergency can occur, her husband was anxious to learn these skills too.”

The Community Education team began exploring ways to continue offering these sessions while social distancing measures were in place. After a successful trial run via Zoom, they’ve decided to offer an online School Program aimed at children aged 9-14, General First Aid for anyone 15-years or older, and a Baby and Child program for anyone who may be caring for babies and children.

“Learning first aid skills is important for people of all ages,” Hayley stated. “We’ve had children from our program go on to save their parents and we’ve had parents able to save their children. It’s impossible to predict when emergencies may happen, but it is possible to be prepared.”

St John NT is able to offer these sessions for free to all Territorians by funding Community Education through commercial services. As many commercial operations, such as accredited first aid training, have been affected by COVID-19, Community Education is experiencing a significant loss. St John NT is committed to providing these lessons for free, but encourages participants to make a donation upon booking when able. These donations will directly assist the Community Education team with their mission to make first aid a part of every Territorian’s life.

“We plan on continuing to offer these online programs even as restrictions ease,” Hayley said. “I love teaching in person, but the online courses allow for parents to attend during nap time and care for their children in their own home. I hope this platform removes barriers and makes it easier for everyone to learn life-saving skills.”

The next Community Education lesson is the Baby & Child program scheduled for Wednesday, 27 May. To sign up or to view other sessions, please visit our event page. Lessons will also be posted via the St John NT Facebook page as they are scheduled. Educators interested in scheduling a first aid lesson for their students are invited to contact the Community Education team directly at communityeducation@stjohnnt.asn.au.


Become a Volunteer & Build Your Story

Imagine learning lifesaving skills, gaining real-world experience in the health care field, attending amazing events across the Territory, and making life-long friendships.

Volunteers at St John NT don’t need to imagine this – they live it.

St John NT is currently recruiting motivated and passionate volunteers who are ready to build their story. While the St John NT volunteer program began solely as First Aid positions, the range of options available for volunteers have expanded and grown into a diverse range of opportunities. People across the Territory can now join the volunteer team in both clinical and non-clinical environments.

Clinical positions are divided into several levels of membership: Juniors (8–11 years), Cadets (11–18 years), and Adults (18+ years). These volunteers provide first aid services at unique and exciting events across the territory, including rodeos, festivals, sporting events, and even natural disasters. Recently, St John NT volunteers have been undergoing unqiue training in our Ambulance Assist program. In this program, volunteers learn how to assist ambulance operations in the event that extra capacity is required. No matter which duties they undertake, each volunteer is provided nationally recognised training courses to ensure they are prepared and confident to deliver quality treatment.

For volunteers that are interested in the adminsitrative side of healthcare and community engagement, St John NT has a diverse range of projects and support opportunties available. These unique opportunities are flexible and can be designed to specificially utilise existing skillsets or to build new ones.

If you are ready to build your story, contact St John NT at (08) 8922 6205 or volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au. Find more information here: www.stjohnnt.org.au/volunteering.

History snapshot by Frank Dunstan

History snapshot

How St John Ambulance started in the Northern Territory

St John Ambulance’s first brush with the Territory came in September 1915 when twice-weekly first aid classes were started under the direction of the Chief Health Officer, Dr MJ Holmes, in the office of Mr Andrews at Government House, Darwin. There was a fee of two shillings and sixpence to cover the cost of bandages, splints, lighting, etc. A St John Ambulance certificate would be issued to all who passed the tests on completion.

Nothing more is heard about St John in Darwin until March 1936 when the newly arrived Commonwealth Quarantine Officer, Dr HL Carruthers, formed and began training an aircraft crash squad at the Darwin aerodrome, on what is now Ross Smith Avenue. The squad comprised three teams, one with extinguishers for fire-fighting, the second with axes and other tools to liberate passengers, and the third team to administer first aid. Squad members came from the police force, railways and general public. First aid training was to St John Ambulance methods and culminated in a division of the St John Ambulance Brigade being formed. Unfortunately, very little is known about this division apart from the fact of its existence and nothing was reported after February 1937.

War came to Darwin and early post war attempts to restart St John Ambulance were rebuffed by the NT Administration. It wasn’t until May 1952 that a serious start was made when the Department of Civil Aviation formed a first aid group under the charge of DCA Fire Chief Norman Bradbury, a qualified St John man. Training was conducted by Bradbury and Surgeon Lieut. J O’Donohue RN. Classes were segregated with men’s training on Monday nights, and women on Wednesday nights. Eighteen people successfully passed the examinations and their inaugural public first aid duty was at the 1952 Darwin Show, with 57 casualties being treated.

The NT News of 23 October 1952 reported:
The St John’s Ambulance unit formed at DCA has been advised that the South Australian Division has authorised the formation of a St. John’s Ambulance Brigade for Darwin.

All persons holding St John’s certificates may become members of the brigade and the scope of ambulance work here will be considerably widened.

Bradbury and Lieut. O’Donohue then travelled down the track conducting first aid training mainly for DCA personnel at Daly Waters, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. A Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade was formed in Alice Springs in December 1952 and followed in other regional centres over the years. (More to come in subsequent issues of this newsletter.)

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Did you know that the majority of snake bites happen near homes or buildings? Though some bites and stings may not release venom, it is important to treat all incidents as potentially life-threatening.


Bites and stings from snakes, funnel-web spiders, mouse spiders, blue ringed octopuses, and cone shells can be extremely painful or even deadly. These bites and stings should be treated immediately by applying pressure bandages and immobilising the area while waiting for medical aid.


  1. If the bite or sting is on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage (crepe preferred) over the bite site.
  2. Apply a firm, heavy crepe or elasticized roller bandage (10-15 centimeters wide) starting just above the fingers or toes, and moving upwards on the bitten limb as far as can be reached.
  3. Apply the bandage as tightly as possible to the limb.
  4. Immobilise the bandaged limb using splints.
  5. Seek medical aid/Call Triple Zero (000).

Upcoming First Aid Courses

Throughout the month of May, St John NT is offering First Aid training in a blended delivery model in Darwin and Alice Springs. To participate, students must be renewing their Provide First Aid or CPR certificate. The training will be offered online with one private face-to-face assessment period. St John NT hopes to recommence First Aid training in the upcoming the weeks. To keep up-to-date with courses as they become available, follow us on Facebook or visit our Training Special Offers page.

History snapshot

Safe wherever life takes you – first aid discounts and offers

Territorians recently received some exciting news – restrictions are beginning to ease! With some National Parks now open and fishing finally permitted, Territorians from the Top End to the Red Centre are looking forward to getting out amongst nature.

As everyone flocks to a campground to enjoy all that the Territory has to offer, it is important that safety stays at the forefront of everybody’s mind. In an effort to keep Territorians safe even in the most remote location, St John NT is offering a 20% discount on St John branded first aid kits and products for the month of May.

St John branded first aid kits provide safety for a wide range of activities. From waterproof first aid kits to kits specifically for off-road adventures. All St John first aid kits are fully stocked with an extensive range of quality first aid equipment to help prepare for any emergency. Every kit has a minimum 12 month expiry period so you know that you’ll be covered for your first aid needs.

To learn more about the extensive range of St John first aid products, please visit our website, visit our retail stores in Darwin or Alice Springs, or email sales@stjohnnt.asn.au.

This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other offers, on PPE, or on contracted items and is not available through our online store.

Visit or contact us at either of our two main outlets:

416 Stuart Highway
Phone: (08) 8935 2500
Fax: (08) 8935 2599

Allchurch Street
Alice Springs
Phone: (08) 8959 6652
Fax: (08) 8959 6654

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