A Brief History of St John Ambulance
The St John Ambulance Association was established in England in the 19th century by the British Order of St John. It recognised the need for effective first aid training to ease the suffering caused by increasing accidents in a rapidly industrialising society. It soon spread throughout the British Empire, coming to Australia in 1883.
First Aid Training
The Perth Centre was founded by Mathieson Henry Jacoby. He already had some St John experience, having gained a first aid certificate in his home town of Adelaide. He enlisted several local doctors to promote and teach first aid training in Perth. This was the forerunner of the first aid training which continues to operate today.
Volunteer First Aid Service
In 1904 Perth established a men's division of the St John Ambulance Brigade.
In 1903 the Western Australian St John Ambulance Council sent an experimental squad of first aid volunteers to attend Perth's Royal Agricultural Show, where they treated six casualties. At a meeting in January 1904 the Council agreed to advertise among recent graduates of first aid classes for volunteers from whom a Brigade division could be formed. Several men answered the call, and in December, 10 men duly voted themselves into existence as a division. In 1913 the first women's division was formed.
In the early years, the Brigade attended all race meetings at the metropolitan race courses and received donations for their services. They also attended other events such as football matches, bicycle races and the Royal Agricultural Show. In the first year, they performed 52 public duties and had recruited 25 additional members. The Volunteer First Aid Service now has over 900 adult and cadet members.
The Ambulance Service
St John took over formal control of the Perth metropolitan ambulance service from the Fire Brigade on 1 July 1922.
In its first year of operation the service attended 1911 calls. It grew steadily and within a decade the number of patients transported in the Perth area had risen to over 3000.
In 1929, a second metropolitan ambulance centre was established in Fremantle, and during the 1930s approximately 50 Sub Centres were established throughout the state.
With a comprehensive service emerging to care for both medical and accident cases, public expectations were increasing and meeting the costs of the service was becoming increasingly difficult.
During the 1920s and 30s, the ambulance service was provided on a donation basis. In 1933 the Lotteries Commission established its long association with St John Ambulance by making an annual grant. However, to provide a reliable service and meet higher public demands, more resources were required.
Since 1949 the State Government has assisted with funding the service. In 1952 a Contributory Scheme was introduced to allow the public to insure themselves for their ambulance transport needs.
Over the following decades St John Ambulance continued to grow. By 1970 over 17,000 patients used ambulance transport in the metropolitan area and the number of country Sub Centres had increased to 96.
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw major modifications occurring in the organisation's management and practices. In 1987 a unified Australian structure superseded the previous separate state arrangements and the name changed to St John Ambulance Australia.
Further changes occurred in the late 1990s with a new green uniform for all St John members in Western Australia and green livery on our vehicles.
This new branch in Western Australia was established in 1995. Non-uniformed volunteers visit the lonely or elderly in their homes, sometimes taking them shopping or on excursions and also maintaining contact by telephone.
Orders of St John
St John Ambulance in Western Australia is sponsored by the British Order of St John. The original Order of St John is the Catholic monastic Sovereign Military Order which was established in the 12th century following the first Crusade. Details of other recognised Orders of St John are also available from the Ian Kaye-Eddie Heritage Centre.
For further information on the history of St John Ambulance, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone (08) 9334 1434.