Flashing Lights Newsletter

The St John NT Monthly Newsletter

Flashing Lights Newsletter | St John Ambulance
2019 Jun

Message from the CEO

Welcome all to our updated Flashing Lights newsletter.

It has been an exceptionally busy start to 2019 for us with some exciting projects underway.

St John NT has launched our new life saving initiative, our Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) Program. We are on a mission, with your help, to place 1000 defibrillators in public places throughout the Northern Territory by 2021. This PAD program is ambitious – but it is going to save lives. In Australia each year 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest each year, 27,000 of those people will die this year alone. That’s 73 people every day. Mums, dads, children, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, any time. No matter the age or the gender. International programs have proven that if a defibrillator is applied within the first few minutes survival rates can be as high as 70 per cent. That is why we want defibrillators within reach of all people in the Northern Territory - it is the only way to give people a chance of survival.

Thanks to generous donations and Territory grant, defibrillators have already been placed in communities on the Tiwi Islands, across the Katherine region and in tourist hotspots including Litchfield National Park and Howard Springs Nature Park.

You can help us make a difference to the lives of people in the Northern Territory.

Our fantastic volunteers will soon be launching their new rapid response platform, the Bicycle Emergency Response Team (BERT). Now when they are providing first aid and emergency care at large events such as Darwin V8 Supercars, City2Surf and the Royal Darwin Show, they will be able to get to their patients faster. Equipped with first aid kits, oxygen and cardiac defibrillators they will be ready to respond to anyone and anything.

The need for traditional first aid training, to treat wounds, medical conditions and deliver CPR, is well expected as a vital skill to have in a workplace and at home. There has been a growing recognition of the need to now have skills in mental health first aid to ensure people are confident in reaching out and helping someone they are concerned about. St John NT now has accredited trainers in mental health first aid and is offering courses that will build skills and resilience in this area in the workplace and in daily life.

Talk soon

Judith Barker, CEO St John NT



In April 2019 St John NT officially launched its Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) program which will see the charitable organisation place 1000 defibrillators in public spaces across the Northern Territory.

“In Australia only one in ten people survive a sudden cardiac arrest,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker said.

“International programs similar to ours have proven that if a defibrillator is applied within the first few minutes survival rates can be as high as 70 per cent.

“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, any time,” Ms Barker said. “Sudden cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function which usually results from an electrical disturbance in the heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to a person’s body.

“Unfortunately, if treatment isn’t initiated immediately, chances of survival are incredibly low.

“That is why we want defibrillators within reach of all people in the Northern Territory - it is the only way to give people a chance of survival.”

The defibrillator program is close the Ms Barker’s heart, especially since losing her aunt to sudden cardiac arrest in 2015.

“She died at a shopping centre on the way to see her GP because she was feeling unwell,” Ms Barker said. “Unfortunately there was no defibrillator nearby when her heart stopped. Like so many families all over Australia we lost a loved one who could have been saved if a defibrillator had been available.”

As part of the St John NT PAD program defibrillators have already been placed in communities on the Tiwi Islands and across the Katherine region, as well as remote locations in the Timber Creek area and tourist hotspots including Litchfield National Park and Howard Springs Nature Park.

To find out more about the program, visit www.stjohnnt.org.au/pad


St John NT ambulance crews spent the early hours of May 13 at Dundee Beach, coming to the rescue of a young man who was seriously injured in a fall. 

A crew of paramedics and an intensive care paramedic travelled more than 100km to Dundee where the 34-year-old had fallen six to eight meters off a cliff. 

St John assessed and treated the man at the bottom of the cliff before paramedics, police officers and bystanders carried the man half a kilometre along the beach and up the cliff face.

In the care of paramedics he was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital at with a suspected broken jaw, chest and back injuries.


On May 10 St John NT proudly stood with Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, her family, the Katherine community and all of Australia - dressing up in blue for the first national ‘Do it for Dolly Day’.

Bullying is never okay. 

Here at St John NT we support Tick and Kate Everett in their endeavours to open peoples' minds up to the issues of bullying, that there are problems, and that these problems need to be fixed for our children and our community. 

“On Do it for Dolly Day, we really wanted to remind everyone - mums and dads and carers - to talk to their children about bullying - and for kids to talk to mum and dad,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker said.

“Speak out, even if your voice shakes. Do it for Dolly.

“It is important that we all stand together against bullying - not just today, but every day. It is important to keep the conversation going, and to speak out.”

But Do it for Dolly Day isn’t just about bullying. 

“For us here at St John NT the day is also a reminder to talk about mental health,” Ms Barker said. “It is okay to not be okay. But please speak to someone and seek help. If you’re not okay, all St John NT staff are here for you.”

St John NT also offers First Aid for the Mind mental health training all across the Northern Territory. 



A health education initiative that increases the resilience of children and young people across the Northern Territory celebrated a major milestone earlier this year.

In a small ceremony at Dripstone Middle School in Darwin in February, the St John NT First Aid In Schools Program marked the occasion that 70,000 school students will have received free life-saving first aid training through the award-winning program.

Established in 2010 as an initiative of St John NT in a bid to make first aid a part of every Territorian’s life – starting with the youngest Territorians – the program is tailored to children in primary and high school who 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 promotes positive, confident and informed action by young Territorians in medical emergency situations, giving them the ability to help themselves, their families and communities in times of need,” St John NT CEO Judith Barker said.

“The 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 NT first trialled the program in 2010 when pilot sessions were run in Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land. 

The innovative program quickly gained national interest and since its first NT trials more than 1 million children have been trained in live-saving first aid skills by St John Ambulance across Australia.

“Last year alone, our Community Education teams in the Northern Territory taught more than 13,300 school students crucial first aid skills,” Ms Barker said. 

“That are 13,300 empowered and resilient young people all over the NT – including in some of the most remote communities – who now have greater confidence in responding to accidents, illness or emergencies.

“At St John NT we work closely with the NT Government, local schools, health services providers, Elders and Traditional Owners and other relevant stakeholders to deliver 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 NT First Aid in Schools program can prevent deaths and save lives.”

St John NT Community Education Officer Hayley Edge said the skills taught in the program were “just as important as reading and writing”.

“Working with schools, Elders, members of the community and young people all across the NT is an amazing opportunity to provide help and teach resilience in case of an emergency,” Ms Edge said.

“St John NT is committed to promoting the importance of first aid in the community and we believe there is no better place to start than in our schools.

“Our aim is to equip all children with the first aid skills they need if faced with a medical emergency. This is part of a mission to ensure at least one person in every household is trained in first aid.”

Funding for the program is provided by grants, the donations St John NT receives from generous Territorians and businesses, and from the proceeds of commercial activities such as St John NT first aid training, first aid kit sales and restocking, as well as the St John NT mechanical workshops.

In 2018 the St John NT Community Education team was presented with the ‘Resilient Australia Community Award’ for their program.

Schools can book St John NT’s free First aid in Schools by calling 8922 6200.


Photo of the Month

PAD Program Launch: St John NT Chairman Peter Carew, Her Honour the Administrator of the Northern Territory the Honourable Vicki O'Halloran, St John NT CEO Judith Barker and First Aid Trainer Chris Trotter.

Support St John NT's
Public Access Defibrillator Program or
register your existing AED today.

2019 St John Day in pictures

Upcoming first aid courses

Tennant Creek
Provide an emergency first aid response in an education and care setting (HLTAID004) - July 23-24

Alice Springs
Provide First Aid in Remote Situations  (HLTAID005) - August 6-8

View all courses

History snapshot

History snapshot

Q & A about St John Ambulance - Frank Dunstan

Who owns St John Ambulance?

St John Ambulance is a foundation of The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. The Order is active in more than 40 countries around the world, with its headquarters in London. 
The Order of St John is a separate body from its Priories and other establishments, and is registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales. The Trustees are the Great Officers of the Order, the Priors of each Priory or their appointed representative, and the Order Hospitaller. Together they form the Grand Council.
Each of the Priories, Commanderies and St John Associations has its own constitution. They are subject to the Charter, Statutes and Regulations of the Order, but within that they have a wide degree of autonomy.
The head of the Australian Priory is by custom the Governor General, with State Governors being Deputy Priors. The Administrator of the Northern Territory is our Deputy Prior. The Chancellor is Chair of the National Board of Directors.

Which Saint John? There are several.
The patron saint of The Order of St John is St John the Baptist.
While the Order has always been the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, the Baptist wasn’t always the patron. The first patron was John the Merciful, aka John the Almsgiver and a few other names besides. John was the Patriarch of Alexandria in the 7th century and renowned for his Christian charity. He helped people of all classes and referred to the poor as “our lords and masters”. His boast was that he found the treasury of his church full, but left it empty.
The Blessed Gerard, founder of the Order of St John in 1080, said that the Order existed to serve “our lords the sick and our lords the poor”. This charitable ethos was so much in line with the Almoner’s that he was a good choice for Patron Saint.
What and when is St John Day?
St John’s Day falls on the 24th of June and is the day that Christianity celebrates the birth of St John the Baptist. John was born six months before Jesus and when the date of Christmas was decided at 25th of December they counted back six months.
Then shouldn’t St John Day be June 25?
The most likely reason why John’s birth is celebrated on 24th June lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the Kalends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was the eighth day before the Kalends of January. Consequently, St John’s Nativity was put on the eighth day before the Kalends of July. However, since June has only thirty days, John’s birth is celebrated on the 24th.

Reference: Order in the Territory: An Introduction to The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, and to St John Ambulance in the Northern Territory. Frank Dunstan, Darwin, 2018

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