St JohnThursday 29 April 2010, 10:18AM
Media release from St John
On Friday 30 April 2010, St John marks the 125th anniversary of the
day it was founded in New Zealand.
From humble beginnings providing ambulance services on wheeled
stretchers and small first aid classes in local communities, St
John has grown to become one of the largest civilian service
organisations in the country.
The St John Ambulance Association was formed following a community
meeting in Merivale, Christchurch on 30 April 1885, to meet the
community need to provide its own ambulance and first aid
services. The organisation rapidly spread and grew throughout
The St John Ambulance Association ran regular lectures in first
aid, while St John Ambulance Brigade members attended sports
matches and other events, providing first aid at the scene.
The first St John ambulances were stretchers on trolleys pushed
along the road and known as hand-wheeled litters. Horse-drawn
carriages were introduced as ambulances in 1895, with the first
brought over from England. The first motor ambulance is
understood to have been acquired in 1915 in Timaru. By 1920,
St John had fully embraced the motorised age. Today St John
runs a fleet of ambulances equipped with the latest medical
St John now provides ambulance services to 85% of New Zealand's
population, first aid training to more than 55,000 people a year
and community services nationwide. St John remains committed
to its volunteer ethos, with about 8,000 volunteers working
alongside about 2,000 paid staff.
To celebrate the 125 year anniversary of St John, a range of
community activities are being held nationwide, including an
exhibition with visual and interactive displays at Canterbury
Museum, St John: 125 Years, open until 29 August.
Media inquiries, please contact: Ali Tocker, email
email@example.com or phone 04 819 1131 or 027 211
2159. Photos available on request.
To interview the author of a book published to mark the
anniversary: First to Care: 125 years of the Order of St John
in New Zealand, 1885-2010 please phone author Graeme Hunt on (09)
413 7430 or 021 956 367.
Background: St John 125 years
First to care
St John in New Zealand saw a lot of firsts, not only for this
country but also, in some cases, the world.
1891: First recorded case of St John providing medical
assistance at sports games
1892: St John Ambulance Corps in Dunedin - first registered
division of the St John Ambulance Brigade outside Britain
1895: St John set up the first registered New Zealand nursing
division, and launched a home nursing service two years later
WWI: St John raised money for field ambulances and medical
supplies. Many St John personnel served in military forces
1926: St John established the first blood collection service
in New Zealand, the National Blood Transfusion Council
WWII: St John members taught first aid at mass public classes
and worked at medical centres. Many St John members served
1990s-2010: St John launched a range of new community and
commercial services, including Caring Caller, Friends of the
Emergency Department, St John Lifelink medical alarms and enhanced
first aid training programmes
2001: New national structure for St John came into effect,
with services standardised to enhance delivery
2000-07: St John led a nationwide project to consolidate and
upgrade the country's ambulance communications centres, introducing
modern, international best practice technology
2006: A single national management structure was introduced
for a number of operational responsibilities - to improve
efficiency and ensure consistent, coordinated services
2006-10: A focus on clinical excellence brought a range of
improvements and innovations in clinical education, which are
2008: St John entered a community partnership with ASB, to
help save lives and build stronger communities.
2008-09: St John contributed to Government development of a
New Zealand Ambulance Service Strategy
2010: St John celebrates its 125th anniversary with a range
of community activities nationwide.