St John Ambulance – First Aid and Nursing
The First Aid & Nursing, formerly known as the “Brigade” was formed in 1909 with its first “Division” in Valletta. It has a well trained staff of qualified First Aiders, who are always ready to provide assistance, whilst carrying out public duties such as sports events, culture activities and similar functions. First Aid & Nursing also provides the government with a large number of First Aiders, as well as a small fleet of ambulances, which would be deployed to assist the public in the event of a national emergency. Nurses and doctors also form part of this section and many of the nurses are also Instructors with the Training Association.
By 1915, with the First World War at its peak, and Malta being used as a Mediterranean Hospital for the many injured soldiers, the St. John Ambulance Association offered intensive training in First Aid for military and civilian personnel and provided surgeons and First Aiders from its Brigade to work in hospitals as well as in “Comfort Depots” for convalescing servicemen. The Second World War also saw St. John Ambulance serving in hospitals, First Aid posts and in Civil Defence Corps and Decontamination Centres. Today, the First Aid & Nursing section is run by its Commissioner Mrs. Gemma Sirol, it has three Divisions, which are Birzebbugia, Paola/Tarxien and Valletta. Open Divisions are those which members of the general public can join.
There is also a “Cadet” section consisting of 11 to 17 year olds, who learn first aid, but are not trained to treat the more seriously injured casualties, as is done in the section for adult members (18 years old and over). Adult members are trained in more advanced techniques of First Aid and form part of the first aid teams or ambulance crews whilst on public duties, which may vary in nature and include sports marathons, musical concerts, duties at the Trade Fair grounds or on Beach First Aid posts, horse racing, football matches, village feasts, air shows, Royal visits, provide assistance to the disabled and the elderly, work with the film industry while filming is in progress and many other duties.
To give a general idea of what this work involves, the yearly average time spent on ambulance duties alone total up to 1700 hours and would normally include the conveyance of about 30 persons to hospital or health centres, plus having treated approximately 400 others on-site. One should remember that all this work is done on a voluntary basis and that St. John Ambulance only gets a small donation from the activity organiser for its service; a donation which is used on fuel and maintenance expenses for the ambulances and First Aid equipment.
First Aid & Nursing Divisional Meetings:
Birzebbugia – Wednesdays 7:00pm
Valletta – Thursdays 7:30pm
Paola/Tarxien – Fridays 7:30pm