Our St John Ambulance is still going strong in Derry 80 years on

St Johns Ambulance volunteers Tyrone Jones, Nigel Brinner and Lucy Kane demonstrate CPR at the First Aid Awareness Day held recently in Guildhall Square. DER3117GS005
St Johns Ambulance volunteers Tyrone Jones, Nigel Brinner and Lucy Kane demonstrate CPR at the First Aid Awareness Day held recently in Guildhall Square. DER3117GS005

St John Ambulance was established in city in the 1930s, notably at the time of the construction and opening of the Craigavon Bridge.

It played a central role in the Second World War, by setting up First Aid Posts where the volunteers went around training people in factories or at the First Aid Posts. In addition the organisation transported casualties to hospital from ships during war time.

In the city, we have over 100 active adult volunteers, who regularly give up their time each week to provide first aid services across our city. At times of pressure, the members support other areas across Northern Ireland. This does not include our cadet and badger groups in the city, who play an integral role in the St John Ambulance organisation.

St John Ambulance has over 900 adult and 600 young volunteers throughout NI. Our presence has grown through time, in 2013 we opened our new Headquarters in Springtown, which provides supports to operational units as far as Enniskillen. The centre also provides a base for training and is home to three ambulance vehicles, two A&E Ambulances and one Patient Transport Ambulance. These are used for public events and supporting NI Ambulance Service, in the event of regional escalation in demand on services or actual major incidents.

Recently, we have set up a new unit at Ulster University based at Magee, which will focus on student lead volunteering. In September, they will be holding first aid demonstrations across the campus, encouraging many young people to learn basic first aid skills even though many of us hope never to need to use them. However, if a situation presents itself we hope individuals will have the skill knowledge to give basic First Aid.

On August 5, Angela Thompson, Western Area Commissioner along with David Austin, Assistant Commissioner, organised an event in Guildhall Square. The purpose was to create an awareness of how and when we should give First Aid and how should we perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation ‘CPR’, if required.

Our volunteers engaged with the public by distributing information leaflets. We offered advice and guidance to young children and adults. They were able to get hands on experience. It was a really enjoyable day. We wish to thank Starbucks Foyleside, who provided us with coffee and cake, Nando’s Shipquay Street, who provided lunch to all of us. The Crazy Rabbit made a kind gesture by providing our volunteers with ice cream at the end of busy day. Finally, Derry City and Strabane District Council for providing us shelter.

We also wish to thank all our volunteers whether you are in the city, in Strabane, Castlederg, Clogher or Enniskillen, it is the great team effort which continues our work in living our mission statement that “everyone who needs it should receive first aid from those around them. No-one should suffer for the lack of trained first aiders”.

Our next awareness session will be held during Freshers week at Magee. Keep up to date with our activities on Facebook pages, St John Ambulance, Western Area, St John Ambulance – Magee LINKS, St John Ambulance, Sevenoaks.