On 2 June 1936, a small number of volunteers from the St John Ambulance Brigade, a second-hand ambulance based in a shed at an old concrete works, responded to their first casualty. This was the beginning for what is now the life-saving St John Emergency Ambulance Service.
85 years on, the ambulance service responds to between 5,000-6,000 emergency calls every year, including hundreds of life-threatening cases, medical conditions, traumatic injuries, mental health calls and falls.
Shortly after its formation, St John played a vital role during the Occupation, providing medical care and transport for islanders who stayed in Guernsey. In the post-war years, the Ambulance & Rescue service developed into new areas including cliff rescue, inshore rescue boats and the marine ambulance.
Paying tribute to the work of St John The Lieutenant-Governor, Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder, commented: "It’s uncommon for land and sea ambulance services to be delivered by a charity, but St John Emergency Ambulance Service does it extremely well and is an organisation in which islanders can take great pride.
Pictured: St John's original ambulance, which attended its first call-out in 1936 (Credit: Reg Blanchford, Guernsey’s Occupation Ambulance Service).
"From the Occupation years through to the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and right up to today, the Service and its people are never off duty. Let’s take a moment to remember their loyalty, consistency and professionalism on this special day.”
Today the focus is on providing pre-hospital emergency medicine and paramedic treatment for the community of Guernsey, working in collaboration with Health & Social Care to develop new pathways of care as part of the Partnership of Purpose.
“85 years of providing the ambulance service for Guernsey is a significant milestone for St John," said HSC President Al Brouard. "In 1936 our health and care services would have looked very different but the need for pre-hospital emergency medicine and health care by an ambulance service is just as important now as it was then."
The emergency ambulance service still operates from the site of the old concrete works at the Rohais in St Peter Port. The service runs a fleet of five frontline ambulances, three response cars and a 4x4 response vehicle, plus two non-emergency patient transfer ambulances. The team is made up of paramedics, technicians and emergency care assistants, supported by a small admin team and a senior leadership team.
Pictured: The emergency service has a fleet of five frontline ambulances.
As part of the St John Guernsey charity, professionally trained clinicians from the emergency ambulance service are supported by the St John charity, who provide volunteers on the Flying Christine III marine ambulance and the Volunteer Ambulance Reserves.
Over the past 18 months, the St John Covid-19 response teams have also assisted with ambulance decontamination.
Chief Ambulance Officer Mark Mapp said: “St John has a great heritage of responding to the changing needs of the island community and we continue to develop and adapt to meet the needs of the population. Today is an opportunity for the Emergency Ambulance Service not only reflect on our past but look forward to the future.”
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