Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2020 Oct

Welcome all to our Flashing Lights newsletter

Welcome to October, I trust you are all keeping well as the weather begins to heat up.

This week we are celebrating NT Youth Week, an exciting opportunity to highlight the great achievements of our youth members. As St John NT volunteers, our 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, our 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.

Last week, St John NT hosted work experience student Sarah who is also one of our youth members from the Palmerston Cadet Division. Sarah is interested in becoming a paramedic, and the week of experience allowed her to further develop her skills and learn more about what we do as an organisation.

It is exciting to have so many young people interested in our Youth Development Program. We are pleased to expand our capacity and will welcome new youth members into our organisation with the launch of a new Parap Cadet Division later this month.

Last week I had the honour of presenting two of our paramedics with CEO commendations for their involvement in a recent AUSMAT deployment to Victoria. Their experiences in assisting COVID-19 infection control in aged care facilities within the greater Melbourne area highlighted for me how fortunate we have been in the Territory in the management of the disease and how important it is that we do not become complacent.

I would like to acknowledge the high level of professionalism they displayed in undertaking this deployment and the expert manner in which they applied their training and expertise. Paramedics undertake their role in the community with care, compassion and professionalism every day, often unnoticed and without the expectation of thanks.

Friday, 16 October marks international Restart a Heart Day. This important day serves as a timely reminder to learn or refresh CPR skills. It is also an opportunity to familiarise oneself with where to locate and how to use an AED. We will have free CPR demonstrations in several locations in the NT, so please read on for more details. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT


Restart a Heart Day – Learn CPR for FREE!

“To whom it may concern,

Prior to November 30, 2019, I was considered to be a reasonably healthy 61-year-old male – not overweight, consistently good cholesterol levels and blood pressure. I had no alarm bells ringing.

On the evening of November 30, 2019, just after sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends at Fiddlers Green (Waterfront Precinct), I experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) without warning – and I died. Bugger.

Through extraordinarily good luck, three Emergency Department nurses from the RDH were sitting very close by and commenced CPR. They kept my vital organs oxygenated and functional for seventeen minutes until an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) was borrowed from the wave pool Lifesavers. It took three shocks to bring me back to life.”

Mr Peter Brady is one of over 30,000 Australians who suffer a SCA out of hospital every year. Tragically, only one in ten survive.

Knowing how to respond in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. International Restart a Heart Day is recognised on Friday, October 16 and is a timely reminder of the importance of knowing how to provide CPR and use an AED. If a defibrillator is applied within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, survival rates can be as high as 70%. St John NT aims to have 1000 public access defibrillators installed across the Territory by the end of 2021.

St John NT also offers nationally accredited first aid training year-round, on Restart a Heart Day however, we will offer FREE CPR and AED demonstrations. Join us on Friday, 16 October from 11-2pm at Yeperenye Shopping Centre in Alice Springs, Coolalinga Central and Casuarina Shopping Centre in Darwin. Our first aid trainers, paramedics, and volunteers will be offering professional tips as well as hands-on CPR and AED practice.

Ambulance services across Australasia are also banding together to offer a virtual information session related to AED use and CPR skills. View the program at Restart a Heart Day and watch our social media pages for more information!


St John NT Paramedics return after joining AUSMAT in Victoria

St John NT paramedics Steve Schrieke and Orest Zadvirnyy recently returned to the Territory after their deployment to Victoria where they assisted with the COVID-19 response.

Steve and Orest were amongst 37 AUSMAT (Australian Medical Assistance Teams) members deployed to Victoria to support the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre since late July. Team members include nurses, paramedics, logisticians, a pharmacist and a medical doctor for team welfare. Working in small teams, AUSMAT completed 162 visits to 75 aged care facilities.

“It all happened very quickly,” Orest said. “Within 36 hours of signing on with AUSMAT we were arriving in Victoria.” Steve and Orest worked on separate teams where they assisted in assessing personal protection equipment (PPE) and infection control procedures and boosting infection prevention and control measures in the facilities.

“It was a challenging role,” Steve said. “Not only because of the long hours, but also because of the safety measures. We would wear PPE for so long that we all started to get pressure sores on our noses – we had to start using barrier cream.”

Upon returning to the Territory, Steve and Orest underwent two weeks of quarantine before sharing their newfound knowledge with their colleagues.

“AUSMAT provided us a great opportunity to support out interstate colleagues,” Orest said. “The experience has also allowed us the opportunity to better prepare for similar situations in the Territory.”


16-month-old survives drowning

16-month-old Patrick McLean has made a healthy recovery after a near drowning incident last month.

On Sunday, 6 September around 5pm a St John NT emergency medical dispatcher trainee answered a Triple Zero (000) call in response to a 16-month-old drowning. Patrick was unconscious and not breathing at the time of the call. St John NT paramedics and NT Police arrived on scene, providing emergency medical care until the CareFlight Helicopter arrived to transport the young patient.

Together they stabilised, intubated, and prepared the 16-month-old for transport. CareFlight crew, mum, and baby Patrick flew by helicopter to Royal Darwin Hospital where the patient was admitted to ICU.

Patrick has since fully recovered and was discharged from hospital on Thursday, 17 September.

“Accidents such as this can happen in the blink of an eye,” St John NT Director of Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas said.

“This great collaboration between St John NT, CareFlight, and NT Police allowed Patrick to receive urgent medical attention and to be transported to the hospital as quickly as possible.”

“This frightening accident serves as an important reminder regarding pool safety, especially with young children. It is also important that every Territorian has an up-to-date first aid certificate so that they can react and respond to unpredictable accidents,” Mr. Thomas said.

In the weeks following Patrick’s incident, there have been two other near drownings in the Territory involving children. These children were both resuscitated by people on scene before an ambulance arrived with advice given over the phone by emergency medical dispatchers.

As the weather heats up, it is important to be careful near water, watch over small children and know what to do in an emergency.

St John NT offers accredited and non-accredited first aid courses across the Territory. To sign up for a course, please visit www.stjohnnt.org.au/training.


CDU to train homegrown paramedics

Paramedics will soon be able to train locally in the Northern Territory thanks to a new partnership between Charles Darwin University and St John NT.

The Memorandum of Understanding signifies the start of a partnership to deliver a Bachelor-level degree in paramedic science to be offered by CDU and which will cater to the unique conditions of the NT.

St John NT’s CEO Judith Barker said the NT was one of the country’s most interesting and diverse locations, giving paramedics the opportunity to develop skills and experience with complex medical cases, high speed trauma, and delivery of care in extreme and isolated conditions.

“From the Red Centre to the tropical north, paramedics in the Territory are faced with a complex workload,” Ms Barker said.

“Even in the Territory’s capital city, Darwin, our crews are constantly expanding their clinical experience beyond what is often considered standard care.”

Ms Barker said that the proposed paramedic program would be significant for recruitment and retention.

“St John NT is the Northern Territory’s leading provider in emergency medical response and preparedness,” she said. “This will increase our capacity to save lives and build community resilience to improve the safety and healthcare for all Territorians.”

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said he was delighted to sign the partnership to offer this new opportunity through CDU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

“This is a first for the NT, providing Territorians with an opportunity to respond to the needs of their community without travelling interstate to study,” Professor Maddocks said.

“CDU is well-placed to offer the program with considerable strengths in health-related research, teaching and consultancy.” Professor Maddocks said that CDU was uniquely positioned to explore issues of national and regional importance such as tropical medicine, Indigenous health and mental health.

“Our courses span medical laboratory science and clinical sciences, allied health, health science, exercise sport and science, psychology, and social work,” he said.

“We are committed to developing the health workforce of the Northern Territory now and into the future with strong partnerships such as this one with St John NT.”

The course will be available from Semester 1 2021. For more information email hhs@cdu.edu.au.


Triple Zero (000) Stork Club

2020 has proven to be a busy year for ambulance services across the world. In true Northern Territory fashion, however, our services have been busy with unique cases. From crocodile attacks to buffalo injuries, it seems our operational crews never have two days that are quite the same. This year has been especially unique for our emergency medical dispatchers who manage Triple Zero (000) calls and coordinate logistics for ambulances across the Territory.

“On average, we assist in the birth of about six babies a year over the phone,” Emergency Communications Centre Manager Craig Garraway said. “However, in 2020 our EMDs have already assisted in 10 births.”

Last month, St John NT welcomed two new members to the Triple Zero (000) Stork Club for their outstanding assistance in the successful delivery of a baby over the phone.

EMD Luke Nadels assisted in the delivery of a baby girl and earned himself an induction into the Stork Club in September. Luke calmly provided advice to the expectant father as he coached the mother through the birth. Within three minutes of making the call, the parents successfully delivered their daughter.

Only a few weeks later, EMD Adrian Cousins was welcomed into the Stork Club after assisting with the birth of a baby girl over the phone. Working as an EMD for over 10 years, Adrian is no stranger to the surge of adrenaline from assisting with a high-pressure situation. In fact, Adrian was awarded the Life Saver award for the role he played in saving the life of one-year-old who suffered a near drowning in December last year.

Congratulations to the new parents, and to Luke and Adrian for their great work!


Mental Health Week – Building Healthy Communities

The Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition recognises Mental Health Week from 5 – 9 October. The aim of the Mental Health Week is to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the wider community and to promote understanding of the issues and experience facing people with a mental illness.

This year the theme for Mental Health Week is Building Healthy Communities. With one in five Australians experiencing mental health issues in any given year, it is important that our communities are equipped to respond to a mental health crisis.

“Mental health issues can be difficult to recognise and challenging to respond to,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker said. “We understand that mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing, which is why St John NT offers several mental health first aid courses to help Territorians manage these situations and build a healthier community.”

To learn more about the accredited and non-accredited mental health first aid courses available at St John NT, visit our First Aid Training page.


Sarah’s Story – Work Experience at St John NT

Since joining St John NT several years ago, Cadet Sarah has gained an exciting variety of new experiences and skills. As she learned more about intricacies of paramedicine and general healthcare, she grew more and more fascinated with paramedicine as a career.

“I’d like to study paramedicine because it’s interesting and involves hands-on work,” Sarah explained. “Being a Cadet has given me the chance to learn things with hands-on work, and it turns out that’s how I learn best.”

Eager to learn more about what the field entails, Sarah contacted St John NT to arrange a week of work experience through her school. Volunteer and Event Coordinator Alisha happily scheduled Sarah for an action-packed week, allowing her to learn more about her potential career path and the many other aspects of the organisation.

“We are passionate about helping our youth members develop skills,” Alisha said. “First aid is an important and lifesaving skill, but our Youth Development Program also cultivates competence, confidence, compassion, and a sense of community through proficiency badges, public duties, and community engagement for members aged 8-18.”

Sarah traveled from site to site during the week, learning about each department within St John NT. Knowing that she preferred a hands-on learning approach, Alisha ensured Sarah’s week was more than just job shadowing.

“I started the week assisting with teaching the DRSABCD at Bakewell Primary with the community education team,” Sarah said. “I also saw how complex organising public duty events are, used my skills in developing first aid kits, and joined the intern paramedics during their induction week.”

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.


St. John Ophthalmic Week – A Vision Splendid!

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

If you have ever endured a serious eye injury, infection, or visual disability you will know how important sight is to your everyday ability to function. Now imagine for a moment that when the problem occurred, you lived in an impoverished or remote area and had no means by which you could seek help for yourself or your family. You were condemned to a life of endurance and the hope that you would still be able to cope with life somehow. This was the situation for many people in the Middle East before members of the Order of St John responded to the need and established the Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem in 1882. Since then the Hospital has become something of a worldwide ' Flagship' of the Order for its contribution and services to eye health.

For 138 years the St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem has provided free essential eye care services to people of the area regardless of race, religion or nationality. St John members world-wide contribute to the funding of these services enabling the Eye Hospital Group to continue the work and expand its services through the establishment of satellite centres around the region. But it doesn't end there....

In addition to its general ophthalmic services, the hospital provides specialist eye care and procedures, training for doctors and nurses seeking a career in ophthalmic medicine, and research seeking to eliminate the main causes of preventable blindness. The hospital has initiated mobile units that can bring much needed care, diagnosis and treatment to remote areas and refugee camps. And it is the St John logo that earned the respect and trust that gets those units through some much-disputed territories.

St John Australia's Ophthalmic branch provides free eye care in Moree, NSW, where Aboriginal eye health is a concern, plus financial and professional support to the Oecussi eyecare project in Timor.

In our focus on first aid and its immediate consequences we tend to lose awareness of the long-term effect that eye diseases and injuries bestow on an individual. Loss, partial loss or dysfunction of such a primary sensory system is a source of considerable distress and may have to be endured for long periods. Sometimes for life. So if we can alleviate some of the suffering and correct the problem through treatment, training, or awareness of the cause, it can change a life.

St John Australia’s Ophthalmic Week - usually the first week in October each year – is designed to focus attention on this area of our activities. In the NT, we have adopted October as Ophthalmic Month to give Divisions more opportunities to engage in awareness programs and fundraising activities for the ophthalmic arm of St. John.

Due to social distancing regulations, we can't have our "H-eye Tea" but dedicated St John NT volunteers have found another way to raise funds for this important cause. Join our Top End volunteers on Sunday, 11 October for a Trash to Treasure market stall at Coolalinga Central Markets. Volunteers will also be selling raffle tickets with the grand prize being a custom fire pit from Metal & Wood Creations ($450).

We invite you to support us during Ophthalmic Month by donating lightly-loved items to our market stall, visiting our market stall, or purchasing a raffle ticket ($2 each or 3 for $5). Contact us at volunteers@stjohnnt.asn.au to purchase or donate items!


Historical Snippets - October

St John Ambulance in Batchelor

History snapshot


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

When the Rum Jungle Uranium mine closed in May 1971 their ambulance was left at the Batchelor Health Clinic for the use of the Sister in Charge. It was offered to St John Ambulance, but they declined.

At a public meeting in March 1972, the Batchelor-Adelaide River District Ambulance Service (BARDAS) was formed with Bruce Jones as President. The ambulance was kept at the clinic to be used for afterhours call outs, and a subscription scheme was started to fund the volunteer service. Transports often involved meeting a St John ambulance somewhere on the Stuart Highway and transferring the patient for their trip to Darwin Hospital. All went well until late November when after completing a transfer the ambulance rolled on the return trip putting the driver, Bruce Jones, in hospital himself.

The town was now without an ambulance and BARDAS folded. St John moved in to fill the void and on the completion of a first aid course, a division of the St John Ambulance Brigade was formed on 23 September 1973, with Bruce Jones in charge. The ambulance was kept at the clinic and duty rosters were posted around town. The Batchelor Combined Division was registered on 9 April 1974 with Bruce Jones stepping down for Boyne Litchfield as Superintendent. The Batchelor Division is still serving the community today.

Batchelor residents would know Bruce Jones very well. Besides his volunteering for St John, he was a volunteer fireman and founding member of the Coomalie Council, retiring in 2017. Bruce was an Officer of the Order of St John and retired from St John in January 2011. He sadly died in September 2018.

Frank Dunstan
SJANT Volunteer Historian

Did you know? – First Aid Advice

Did you know that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen to anyone?

SCA - Sudden Cardiac Arrest

SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Early defibrillation, along with CPR, is often the only way to restore a person’s heart rhythm to normal.


CALL Triple Zero (000), the call emergency call taker will be able to provide you with clear instructions. They may also know where the nearest AED is or if someone is with you ask them to locate an AED.

  1. Make sure it is safe to approach the patient
  2. Check for any response from the victim
  3. Tilt their head back, lift their chin and check breathing
  4. If breathing is absent or is not normal, CPR is needed


  1. Place both hands in centre of chest
  2. Compress the chest to the rhythm of ‘Staying Alive’
  3. If you learnt how, provide 2 rescue breaths between every 30 compressions, otherwise provide compressions continuously
  4. Push hard. Don’t worry, you can’t do any harm


  1. If an AED arrives, switch it on immediately and follow the instructions

Are you prepared to respond in an emergency? Join us on international Restart a Heart Day for professional tips and hands-on practice. St John NT first aid trainers, volunteers, and paramedics will be offering FREE CPR demonstrations on Friday, 16 October at Yeperenye Shopping Centre in Alice Springs, Coolalinga Central and Casuarina Shopping Centre in Darwin from 11-2pm.

Can’t make it to the shopping centre displays? Join ambulance services across Australasia for a virtual Restart a Heart Day event. More information can be found at the Restart a Heart Day website.

Upcoming first aid courses

Casuarina, NT
Manual Handling
20 October
Book this course today

Casuarina, NT
Caring for Kids
29 October
Book this course today

Casuarina, NT
Low Voltage Rescue
30 October
Book this course today

View all courses

St John NT Special Offer

Restart a Heart Day Special - $200 off AEDs

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in Australia, with less than a 10% survival rate.

Having an automated external defibrillators (AED) in your workplace, community club, or home can mean the difference between life and death. They are easy to use and maintain, and can help save a life prior to the ambulance arriving.

AEDs provide automated heart rate analysis, voice commands to the person performing CPR and deliver a shock to the heart to try to get it back into normal beating rhythm.

In recognition of international Restart a Heart Day on 16 October, St John NT is encouraging Territorians to purchase an AED by offering $200 off some of our best units.

The Lifepak CR2 Essential package and the Heartsine 360P are both designed so that a person without First Aid skills can easily use the units as they provide clear and concise verbal instructions.

To learn more about these lifesaving units, please visit our Lifesaving Defibrillator webpage. For $200 off your qualifying AED purchase, use the code AED2020.

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