Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Nov

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to November, I can’t believe we’re approaching the end of the year already. As we draw a close on the year of 2020, an eventful month lies ahead with so much to celebrate.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge NAIDOC Week which will be celebrated from 8-15 November in recognition of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We hope to participate in community activities around the Territory and will launch to staff details of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Last month, we celebrated Angie Butler’s 37 and Michael McKay’s 36 years of volunteer services to St John. Such an incredible achievement and a reminder of the valuable work our volunteers do in the community. Be that training and mentoring other volunteers, out in the community at events or assisting in emergency situations.

We also have a number of staff who will meet major milestones this month with Michael McKay and Craig Garraway reaching 30 years of service to our organisation and Stephanie Pilat and Ryan Thomson achieving five years of service. Thank you all for your continued dedication and commitment to St John NT.

Last month, the Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA) patient experience results were released as a part of a national survey to gauge our patients’ level of satisfaction with the service.

Pleasingly, the 2020 survey revealed that 93 per cent of those surveyed in the Territory indicated the care they received from paramedics was ‘very good’, the highest proportion out of all other services across other Australian states and territories.

We know that our ambulance service plays a critical role in providing health care and emergency services to all Territorians, and I’m proud to hear that patient satisfaction and experience remains so high. I wish to congratulate everyone on the work that they do each day that contributes to the high standard of care our patients receive when they need us.

Later this month, the St John NT Excellence Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Parliament House. These annual Awards celebrate and recognise our paramedics, staff, and volunteers who demonstrate excellence in leadership or clinical practice, an outstanding level of care, professionalism, and compassion for members of the Northern Territory community. Recipients of these Awards often go above and beyond the call of duty, clearly displaying St John NT’s values.

I wish to warmly congratulate those who have been recognised in this year’s Awards and to all our exceptional staff, volunteers, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers and patient transport officers for their work and dedication.

With Christmas and the holiday season approaching, Road Safety week from 15 – 22 November is a timely reminder to take care on our roads and continue to play it safe in the Territory.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


Introducing our newest Cadet Division

St John NT celebrated the establishment of Australia’s newest St John Cadet Division last month, the first of its kind in the NT for eight years.

The launch of the Parap Cadet Division is part of St John NT’s expanding Youth Development Program through which youth members have the opportunity to develop competence, confidence, compassion, and a sense of community through proficiency badges, first aid services, and community engagement.

As a registered training organisation, youth members are also able to work towards a Certificate II in Emergency Medical Service First Responder and a Certificate III in Basic Health Care, helping them prepare for their future.

St John NT CEO Judith Barker said there are now seven cadet divisions across the Territory and hundreds of youth members. “It is exciting to have so many young people interested in our Youth Development Program,” Ms Barker said.

“It’s a fantastic way to engage young people in first aid services and for them to understand the importance of being an active and contributing part of our local community. By becoming involved they’ll build up some practical and tangible experience, build their leadership skills, confidence and expertise and get more of a sense about a career in community services.”

St John NT Cadets range from 11 to 17 years of age. The Parap Cadet Division celebrated its opening night on 13 October and welcomed 14 new volunteers to the organisation.

St John NT’s Youth Development Program assists in transitioning youth members into the workforce by providing the opportunity to complete their Certificate II in Emergency Medical Service First Responder and a Certificate III in Basic Health Care.

Youth members also have the opportunity to complete work experience should they have career interests in paramedicine, event management, administration, training, or mechanical services.

To learn more about our Youth Development Program, contact us at (08) 8922 6205 or volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au.


A passion for volunteering

Angie Butler lives and breathes first aid, after all she’s been learning and dedicating her life to it for 37 years.

There’s no doubt that volunteering is her passion, having spent more than 40,000 hours volunteering over her lifetime.

Last month she celebrated 37 years of Volunteer Service – and recapped for Flashing Lights how her decision to become a volunteer had grown from humble beginnings.

Angie started her time with St John in Brisbane in 1983, after having witnessed a car accident in her street where a man was seriously injured.

At the time, Angie was approached by a bystander to provide first aid but felt helpless when nobody knew the skills required.

“After that day I decided that having first aid skills was pretty important so my sister and I started our first aid courses, and that’s where it all began.”

Soon after, Angie’s first aid trainer in Brisbane asked her to join as a volunteer before she moved into employment with St John as a receptionist.

Some 37 years later, Angie is recognised as a Dame of the Order of St John. She is the Superintendent of Palmerston Adult Division, responsible for overseeing the members’ training, skills competencies and accreditation. She devotes hours of her personal time to public duties and has a wealth of knowledge on the Order in the Northern Territory.

On top of this, Monday to Friday she works as a First Aid Training Administration Officer with St John NT taking bookings for first aid courses across the Territory, a skill which she knows is critically important to the local community.

All day long the phones run hot while Angie provides information and places people all over the Territory into courses that upskill them with the expertise to offer critical care to those who need it most.

“We are such a unique organisation – being a part of St John gives you a diverse range of skills and means you get to meet new people, administer first aid to the public and make a difference, “ Angie said.

“Being able to save someone’s life if needed, is pretty rewarding, and why I do what I do. The biggest reward is when someone says thank you for looking after me, and you know you’ve made an impact.”

Angie has experienced some memorable experiences in her time at St John’s – and the one that sticks with her most is when a man collapsed in Brisbane at the Masters Games.

Angie and a fellow volunteer gave oxygen and CPR until the ambulance arrived and, with the help of paramedics, the patient was brought back to life.

Had it not been for their quick thinking it may have been a different story.

On behalf of St John NT, thank you Angie for your ongoing commitment and looking after people in our community.


Alice Springs Investiture Ceremony

Last month we had the very special opportunity of holding an Investiture Ceremony in Alice Springs in recognition of the outstanding commitment of our volunteers to community service.

The ceremony was conducted by Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O'Halloran AO DStJ, The Administrator of the Northern Territory as Deputy Prior of St John Ambulance.

Congratulations to Glen Auricht OStJ, Paul Berry OStJ, Sarena Crossing MStJ and Fran Kilgariff OStJ on achieving Volunteer Service Medals and Bars and Andrew Naden and David Cowan on receiving their National Service recognitions.

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Recognising 30 years of service

Congratulations to Craig Garraway and Michael McKay on reaching this significant milestone.

Craig Garraway

Craig began his career with St John NT as a volunteer with the Parap Brigade. His enthusiasm for the role and dedication to his duty saw him gain a traineeship two years later. Over the following two to three decades Craig has worked across all stations and built experience and knowledge managing and responding to major incidents including the Katherine floods in 1998.

Craig also established the Nhulunbuy St John NT station and proved he was adept at solving problems and earned the reputation of a man who ‘got things done’. Craig moved into several leadership positions and managed all regions within the Territory, and in 2016 Craig was promoted to the Operations Manager of the NT.  The key purpose for this position was to effectively manage the Northern Territory pre-hospital emergency services. During this tenure, Craig established himself as the proverbial “backbone of St John Operations”. His absolute and unwavering dedication to St John NT Volunteers and the ambulance service saw him well regarded and well-liked across the organisation. In 2018 Craig began managing the Emergency Communication Centre. He continues to be the voice and face of St John NT with his daily media commitments which earned him Territory notoriety for his classic Territorian approach which humanised the work of our people and promoted the special care and compassion provided by his colleagues. 

Michael McKay – AKA Mick McKay

Mick joined St John NT as a volunteer in 1984 after showing interest in assisting his community via the provision of first aid services. After exhibiting a clear passion and dedication for prehospital medicine, Mick successfully gained a traineeship position in 1988. He excelled in this position and, after only two years, began working as an Intensive Care Paramedic.

Mick’s clinical knowledge, passion for the role and dedication to his field quickly saw him progress through Leadership positions over the following decades. Mick has held several senior leadership positions within the organisation, including Operations Manager and Director of Ambulance. Mick held the position of Director of Ambulance Services from 2010 through to 2017, and during this time was instrumental in progressing several innovations within clinical operations which directly contributed to improved patient outcomes for the community. In 2017 after close to seven years as Director Mick moved back into a patient-facing and clinical leadership role working on the Critical Response Unit (CRU). Mick continues to utilise his vast knowledge and experiences to support the development of paramedics and deliver quality patient outcomes to patients within the Darwin region.

Thank you both for your dedication to St John NT and the Territory community.


Rhiannon’s Story

Having a toddler running around the house often leaves parents with their hands full. St John NT’s Rhiannon Wilson is no exception as she juggles working and caring for her young son. No matter how busy she may be, however, Rhiannon remains dedicated to serving her community when she is needed most.

“I love helping people,” Rhiannon said. “I have loved the medical field ever since I was at school and did my work experience at the Alice Springs hospital. Since then, I have been passionate about helping people in the most vulnerable times of their lives.”

Rhiannon was first introduced to St John NT in 2016 when her son was an infant. She was instantly infatuated with the work done by volunteers, but waited until her son was a little older before she dove in to volunteering. Since then, she has been an incredibly active and interested volunteer.

“Public duties are a lot of fun,” Rhiannon shared. “I’ve done football, rodeo, Christmas functions, and my favourite – speedway events.”

“St John NT is also helping me move closer to medical career,” she continued. “I’m currently doing my Certificate III in Basic Health Care through the organisation.”

Are you ready to build your story? Contact us at volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au or visit our website to learn more.


Darwin Ophthalmic group supporting eye health

A contribution from Lesley King, D.St.J. T/O Fellowship/Ophthalmic.

In our role as First Aiders we may never get to save a life in the direct sense, but we can save someone from a lifetime of vision impairment by supporting the work of our Ophthalmic colleagues here and in the Eye Hospital Group. In the NT’s northern region our Fellowship members and Divisions in the Darwin area conduct a year-round 'cash for containers' project, the proceeds of which support the Ophthalmic Hospital.

This year’s St John Australia’s Ophthalmic Week featured a market stall at Coolalinga Central, a raffle and plant sale raising $1389.

Special thanks go to Dawn Bat for running the raffle and plant sales over several weekends, to Fellowship members who donated items for sale, and to Angie Butler, Pat and Chris Murray and Christine Turner of Palmerston Division who helped organise the stall and assisted on the day, it was a great team effort. To our members generally, the continued support and awareness of the Ophthalmic Hospital's work is in your hands, let’s continue to work together to support eye health.


Historical Snippets - November

St John Ambulance in Batchelor

History snapshot

Craig Garraway at the handover of the keys to the Nhulunbuy Ambulance Service (4th from left) 27 years ago.


This month we will briefly tell you how St John Ambulance started in Nhulunbuy.

After a false start in 1976, a volunteer division of the St John Ambulance Brigade was formed in Nhulunbuy on 4 March 1981 after two first aid courses were held in the town by Phil Langdon.

The Nhulunbuy Combined Division was registered on 8 November that year and when Phil transferred back to Nhulunbuy in 1982, with his job as a Telecom technician, he arranged for the division’s members to qualify as ambulance drivers and later as ambulance officers. The Department of Health then gave permission for them to use the local ambulance for various public first aid duties around town.

Divisional Officer Dawn Horrocks, a qualified First Aid trainer, was instrumental in forming a cadet division in November 1982 with Mrs Pat Harper as Superintendent. Cadet divisions usually fail through a lack of adult leadership and Nhulunbuy was no exception, with the cadets closing and restarting a few times over the years.

St John had taken over regional ambulance services progressively since Territory self-government and in the later half of 1993 it was to be Nhulunbuy’s turn. The position of an ambulance officer to start this service was advertised and Craig Garraway, then stationed in Katherine, packed his bags and set off on his new venture.

On arrival he was driven to a completely empty house at No 4 Beagle Circuit. The place was bare and he was told to go and find some furniture and that this would be his new home, office and ambulance centre. Craig got the impression that he wasn’t exactly welcome in town, and in his own words:

“When I actually went to Gove it was made quite clear to me that the Operations Branch, or the volunteers, wanted nothing to do with me … the first month was very fiery. I went to a couple of meetings there and it was made quite clear to me what they thought of me being there.”

Not to be deterred, Craig persevered, and the ambulance service was officially handed over on 8 November 1993, ending the previously free service and bringing Nhulunbuy into line with all other major Territory centres. St John charging for the ambulance transport was a condition laid down by the Commonwealth for Darwin in 1975, and for all regional centres as they were progressively taken over from the Department of Health.

Craig recruited and trained casualty care volunteers, separate from the divisional volunteers, to drive and assist with the ambulance service. Division members gradually came around with many wanting to also get involved with the ambulance service. After 12 months, Craig returned to Katherine, satisfied with a job well done in setting up a working ambulance service in Nhulunbuy.

Dawn Horrocks, now Dawn Bat, is still an active volunteer with St John NT and Craig Garraway is now the Manager of St John NT’s Emergency Communication Centre.

Caption image above: Craig Garraway at the handover of the keys to the Nhulunbuy Ambulance Service (4th from left) 27 years ago with Dawn Bat (nee Horrocks) far right.

Frank Dunstan
SJANT Volunteer Historian

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Regardless of whether you are preparing for the cyclone season, bush fires or a holiday, it is sound advice to think about how you would respond in an emergency situation.

DRSABCD is a globally recognised action plan for assessing whether a patient has life-threatening conditions and if immediate first aid is necessary.


Check for danger and ensure the area is safe for yourself, bystanders and the patient.


Check for a response: ask name and squeeze shoulders. No response? Send for help. Response? Make comfortable; monitor breathing and response; manage severe bleeding and then other injuries.

Send for help

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or ask a bystander to make the call. Stay on the line. If alone with the patient and you have to leave to call for help, first turn the patient into the recovery position before leaving.


Open the patient’s mouth and check for foreign material. Foreign material? Roll the patient onto their side and clear the airway. No foreign material? Leave the patient in the position found, and open the airway by tilting the head back with a chin lift.


Check for breathing Look, listen and feel for 10 seconds. Not normal breathing? Ensure an ambulance has been called and start CPR. Normal breathing? Place in the recovery position and monitor breathing.


Start CPR — 30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths. Continue CPR until help arrives, the patient starts breathing, or you are physically unable to continue.


Apply a defibrillator as soon as possible and follow the voice prompts.

Download a DRSABCD action plan

Upcoming first aid courses

Casuarina, NT
CHCCCS019 Mental health & Crisis Support - with pre learning
3 December
Book this course today

HLTWHS5005 Conduct Manual Handing Tasks Safely (Manual Handling)
8 December
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First Aid For The Mind
10 December
Book this course today

View all courses

St John NT Special Offer

Special Offer: Are you cyclone ready?

Get 10% of all St John branded First Aid products and kits until 30 November 2020.

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

For more information on how to prepare for a cyclone including a list of recommended items for your emergency kit, visit https://securent.nt.gov.au/prepare-for-an-emergency/emergency-kits

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