The St John NT Monthly Newsletter
Welcome from the CEO - Judith Barker
On September 27 2018 we celebrated the opening of our new Volunteer and Training Centre in Alice Springs, built in partnership with the Federal Government. Opened by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the centre provides a new, welcoming space conducive to learning and interaction that will provide our volunteers with room to grow and continue the mission of learning and teaching first aid. It will also allow St John to expand its training capacity, offering more first aid courses to more people, creating a more resilient Central Australia in times of disaster. The centre has been named the Peers Talbot Centre in honour of two long serving volunteers Steve Peers and Noel Talbot.
Steve Peers, a Knight of the Order of St John, started volunteering 41 years ago and has been instrumental to the volunteers not only in Alice Springs but throughout the Northern Territory. Steve is a former commissioner, board member and former Operations Manager for the Ambulance Service who dedicated his life to St John staff and volunteers.
The late Noel Talbot - Commander of the Order of St John - was passionate about young volunteers and he travelled around the Northern Territory in his 28 years of volunteering for St John, mentoring and giving guidance to those following in his footsteps. His last position with St John Ambulance was Territory Officer Youth. His passion saw the Youth movement accelerate in the Northern Territory.
This month also saw us commence down the pathway of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) starting with a Reflect RAP. For the first time this year we celebrated NAIDOC week as an organisation, recognising the importance of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The RAP will provide our organisation with a framework that will allow us to move forward in support of national reconciliation.
Only a few weeks into their new job with St John Ambulance NT, eight new paramedics-in-training are busting with pride and excitement about their new jobs.
Clinical Services Officer Rhys Gloury said the graduate interns had all completed their three-year university studies in Paramedicine before starting an internship with St John Ambulance NT on August 13.
“Our new paramedics come from really diverse backgrounds and they are all very excited for the adventure and experience that comes with their new roles in the Northern Territory,” Mr Gloury said.
“During their introduction period, the young men and women get a Territory orientation including meeting Parks and Wildlife Rangers and teambuilding sessions with colleagues from the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services or the RFDS. The graduates also go through lots of hands-on training on working on our ambulances.
After their eight-week introduction, the interns will be working at Ambulance Stations across the Northern Territory for 12 months where they will be putting their learnings into practice under the supervision of qualified paramedics, before their final assessment to becoming qualified paramedics themselves.
Graduate paramedic Craig Busuttil said his move from Sydney’s Eastern Beaches to Darwin earlier this month had been an exciting eye-opener.
“I’d never been to Darwin before I started with St John,” the 32-year-old said. “The culture and work environment here is very different. Everyone helps each other, people care for each other. And everyone is very patient with us while we’re learning and experiencing so many new things.”
The former fitness instructor - who spent four years working on cruise ships in the US - said he was excited about finally being able to fulfil his dream of becoming a paramedic.
“I always knew that I wanted to be a paramedic, but I also knew that a certain maturity is required to be able to do the job. After eight years in fitness and management and four years overseas, I felt I’d developed the required maturity to do what I’ve always wanted to do – and I couldn’t be happier about being here in Darwin.”
Mr Busuttil said seeing his first real crocodile – a Parks and Wildlife show-and-tell baby saltie – had been a highlight of his time in the Top End so far.
One of Mr Busuttil’s new colleagues, 27-year-old Breanna Thiele, said she was thrilled about her move from Adelaide to Darwin to join the St John Ambulance team.
“My uncle moved here when he was young and he’s retired now and still here after all those years,” Ms Thiele said. “I’m excited to be following in his footsteps.”
With a background in sport science, Ms Thiele said she came to the NT in the search for a workplace that would allow her to combine a health focus with an adrenaline-rich ‘outdoorsy’ job.
“I’m loving it,” she said. “I’m loving the Territory, the lifestyle, the fact that everyone is so relaxed and laid back.
“And you can get the world’s best laksa at the Markets.”
Hailing from Shepparton in Victoria, 26-year-old Harrison Lopez joined the new group of St John Ambulance graduates from a mining background.
“I was a laboratory technician in mines in Western Australia, but mining work was a bit tedious.”
Looking for a lifestyle change, Mr Lopez finished his university studies before taking on a new challenge in the Territory.
“The NT and the people here have been extremely welcoming and friendly, and the first few weeks of our training have been excellent,” he said.
“We’re learning so much in a fun and really engaging way.
“I can’t wait to see more of the Northern Territory, especially Alice Springs.”
Mr Lopez said his new workplace and job were ‘very rewarding’, offering a variety of opportunities and possibilities that couldn’t be experienced anywhere else in Australia.
Saving lives is part of the day-to-day job of St John Ambulance NT crews – but it also runs in their blood.
In the past three months alone, blood donations made by St John Ambulance staff in the NT have saved 84 lives across Australia.
Between June and August, St John Ambulance NT staff, paramedics and volunteers took part in the annual Red25 Blood Challenge, donating blood and plasma at the Red Cross Blood Service in a bid to help ensure 25 per cent of Australia’s blood donations are secured.
Giving blood for the first time, St John Ambulance NT paramedic Troy Jones said donating alongside his colleagues was a rewarding experience.
“I’d never given blood before and I was a bit hesitant at first – but every blood donation saves three lives, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile,” the 30-year-old said.
“And a few days after my first donation I received a text message that my blood had been used to save the life of a patient at Royal Darwin Hospital. This person could have been a patient I cared for in my job as a paramedic. It really doesn’t get much better than that.”
Territorians requiring critical emergency response will continue to receive the highest clinical level of care prior to arriving at hospital, after the Northern Territory Government today announced Service Improvement Funding for the creation of a new Duty Manager position within the St John Ambulance Emergency Communication Centre and the continuation of the St John Ambulance NT Intensive Care Paramedic Critical Response Unit.
Launched in November last year as a trial, funded by St John Ambulance NT, the Critical Response Unit complements existing ambulance resource and focusses on rapid response, clinical assessment and advanced medical care.
St John Ambulance NT CEO Judith Barker said the trial period has enabled the organisation to make evidence-based decisions on the best application of resources.
“To achieve the best outcomes for critically unwell patients, progressive investment is crucial,” Ms Barker said. “Our intensive care paramedics are highly experienced clinicians with specialist skillsets and capabilities that have saved many lives throughout the Territory.
“We are excited that the Northern Territory Government will be funding the continuation of the Critical Response Unit in Darwin and Alice Springs and the creation of a new Duty Manager position within the St John Ambulance Emergency Communication Centre.
“St John Ambulance Emergency Medical Dispatchers answer on average 4500 Triple 000 emergency calls every month, with an average of 98% of the calls answered within 10 seconds.
“The new Communication Centre Duty Manager role will enable us to have an additional oversight to assist with the management of complex cases and it will support the dynamic movement of Ambulance resources and the Critical Response Unit.”
The funding announcement comes as the NT Government released their response to the independent Northern Territory Road Ambulance Service Scoping Review to the public.
After meeting with over 140 individuals across the regions, visiting St John Ambulance centres and sub stations, hospitals, primary health centres, Aboriginal community controlled organisations across the NT and United Voice Union representatives, the independent reviewer found that the road ambulance service is functioning satisfactorily
Ms Barker said the organisation and her staff were looking forward to continuing their excellent working relationship with the NT Government and Health providers across the Northern Territory in line with the review recommendations to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.
Teenager’s ordeal to serve as warning to others
As the weather in the Top End is heating up and Territory swimming spots are becoming more populated, the parents of a teenager involved in a freak accident are calling upon the public to be careful around waterways and swimming holes.
Two years ago, while travelling across the Top End with her parents and siblings, Beaudine Cairns, then 16, had spent a joyful afternoon at Robin Falls near Adelaide River when she stabbed her shin on a submerged branch in the creek.
“It was a hot and humid afternoon in the Top End and we were having a cool-off in the creek downstream from the falls,” her mother Allison Cairns remembers. “Just before we left, Beaudine had been standing in the middle of creek and simply just turned to get out of the water when she stabbed her shin.”
Mrs Cairns said her daughter’s wound just looked like someone had “sliced her shin open with a knife”.
The concerned parents took their daughter to a clinic to have the wound cleaned, but Beaudine developed an abscess in her leg.
What followed was many months of dressings, antibiotics and tests - and since the accident the young woman has endured two years of treatments and procedures, including a skin graft operation just last week.
“This wound has affected our whole family for over two years and we've even been told that if there is an infection in her bone she will lose her leg,” Mrs Cairns said.
“It's very scary to say the least. How did something so simple get so out of control?
“Over the last month, she has been through hell and even ended up in the intensive care unit in an induced coma.
“Since this leg injury Beaudine has developed another drama of continuously passing out as a result of all the trauma. Her body can no longer take any more.
“Who would have thought that a simple splash in a creek could cause all this?”
Hailing originally from the Gold Coast, the Cairns family started travelling fulltime many years ago and never envisaged themselves needing the urgent help of St John Ambulance paramedics.
“We appreciate and thank St John Ambulance for providing a wonderful and needed service to the community. We would be lost without St John,” Mrs Cairns said.
The concerned mother said her daughter was hoping her story would warn other people of the risk of submerged objects, especially when the Build-Up lures Territorians and travellers alike to Top End swimming holes
St John Ambulance NT wins 2018 Resilient Australia Community Award
The St John Ambulance NT First Aid in Schools ‘Remote Indigenous Access Project’ has taken out the Northern Territory’s 2018 Resilient Australia Community Award.
A health education initiative that increases the resilience of remote children and young people, the project gives young Territorians the ability to help themselves, their families and communities in times of need or an emergency.
Children in primary and high school learn first aid skills ranging from checking for danger and calling an ambulance through to resuscitation, bleeding control, managing fractures and other medical emergencies such as stroke or heart attack.
“The St John Ambulance NT First Aid in Schools ‘Remote Indigenous Access Project’ promotes positive, confident and informed action by young Territorians in emergency situations,” St John Ambulance CEO Judith Barker said.
“The First Aid in Schools program aims to make first aid skills part of the learning outcomes for every school-aged student in the NT by delivering training specifically developed for children and young people to suit the needs of different education levels.”
Ms Barker said St John Ambulance has been running the program in the Northern Territory since 2011 when pilot sessions were trialled in Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land.
“Last year alone, our Community Education teams taught more than 13,300 NT school students crucial first aid skills. That is 13,300 empowered and resilient young people all over the Northern Territory – especially in remote communities – who now have greater confidence in responding to accidents, illness or emergencies.
“At St John Ambulance NT we work closely with the NT Government, local schools, health services providers, Elders and Traditional Owners and other relevant stakeholders to delivered tailored programs that give young people life skills that enable them to support themselves and their communities by managing emergency situations that require first aid capabilities.
“The training has significant outcomes in terms of injuries being self- or community-treated, rather than needing external emergency services. Skills gained through the St John Ambulance NT First Aid in Schools program can prevent deaths and save lives.”
Ms Barker said being presented with the 2018 NT Resilient Australia Community Award in a ceremony at Development House in Darwin on September 11 was a “well-deserved” recognition for the St John Ambulance NT Community Education team.
The First Aid in Schools ‘Remote Indigenous Access Project’ is now in the running for the national Resilient Australia Community Award.
In July the Administrator of the Northern Territory visited our Ambulance Station in Alice Springs and met our Community Education Officer Regina who was wearing a beanie brooch she had knitted for the annual Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Her Honour loved the mini beanie and Regina offered to make one for her.
In September Her Honour received - and proudly wore - her very own little beanie brooch!
When community members were unable to help a young man during an emergency at a remote waterhole near Barunga in July the local community decided to take action.
St John Ambulance Community Education officer Hayley Edge travelled from Darwin to Barunga in September in a bid to prevent similar events from happening again.
“In July this year a young man had a seizure while swimming near Barunga,” Ms Edge said.
“While the group who were with him managed to pull him out of the water, they were not able to help him as they were not first aid trained and did not know CPR.
“Heartbreakingly, they were unable to provide the possible life-saving first aid that the young man needed.”
Ms Edge said the man’s tragic death triggered a push within the community – and neighbouring Beswick – for locals and especially young people to learn first aid and CPR skills to make the communities stronger and more resilient and potentially save lives.
As part of St John Ambulance NT’s free First Aid in Schools program, more than 100 primary and senior students at Beswick and Barunga Schools were trained in first aid and CPR.
“These skills are just as important as reading and writing, and working with Elders, members of the community and local young people was an amazing opportunity to provide help and resilience in case of an emergency,” Ms Edge said.
Schools can book St John Ambulance NT’s free First aid in Schools by calling 8922 6200.
More people across Central Australia will learn important life-saving first aid skills thanks to the official opening of the new St John Volunteer and Training Centre in Alice Springs, which can now provide better services to its large volunteer network.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack MP said the new centre’s state-of-the-art training facilities will play a pivotal role in educating volunteers.
“The new centre will expand St John’s first aid training division, providing more courses to government employees, private businesses and the wider central Australian community,” Mr McCormack said.
“The community will really notice the benefits in times of natural disaster, when the centre will support emergency responses, disaster management and relief.”
Country Liberals Senator Nigel Scullion said the new facility will serve the people of Alice Springs and Central Australia well into the future.
“The centre has three training halls and a conference room, along with kitchenette facilities on both levels and a staff kitchen on the first floor. It also has offices, storerooms, a reception area, and car spaces for 12 vehicles,” Senator Scullion said.
“The project has had a direct economic impact with 60 construction jobs and 10 ongoing jobs. We are delivering more jobs for Centralians and better community infrastructure to continue to make the Territory a great place to live.
“St John Ambulance has been part of the Alice Springs community for 50 years and this new centre will not only allow them to continue but expand to train more volunteers and provide more health care across Central Australia.”
St John Ambulance NT CEO Judith Barker said the new Alice Springs St John Volunteer and Training Centre would make a crucial difference to the lives of people across Central Australia.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Federal Government we are now able to provide an open, welcoming environment conducive to learning, interaction and involvement. This new, centrally located facility will provide state of the art training facilities for St John and an ability to increase the provision of first aid training that will benefit the entire community,” Ms Barker said.
“The new centre is a flagship for St John and its construction will allow us to develop and grow with the local environment and needs.
“St John volunteers are a fantastic team of people servicing the community and keeping people safe at public events.
“Continuing over 50 years of volunteer service to Central Australia and providing more than 2600 volunteer hours to the Alice Springs community every year, the new centre will enable us to expand our training package delivery while allowing our volunteers to continue their admirable work in professionally servicing over 900 public events a year, including local football and netball games and iconic events such as the Red Centre Nats, Tatt’s Finke Desert Race, the Camel Cup and the Henley on Todd Regatta.”
The project was jointly funded with the Liberal and Nationals’ Government investing $2,365,173 and St John Ambulance Australia (NT) Inc. $788,392.
St John Ambulance CEO Judith Barker, accompanied by the St John Director of Ambulance Services and the St John Ambulance Regional Manager, joined Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services personnel, politicians, dignitaries and the Administrator of the Northern Territory on September 28 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Darwin for the 2018 National Police Remembrance Day commemorative service, remembering police officers throughout Australasia and the South-West Pacific region who were killed on duty or died whilst serving.