This month, St. John Ambulance is celebrating a milestone of 110 years of caring for B.C communities.
The charity’s official 110th anniversary is June 26, with its start date back in 1911. These 110 years are building off of the organization’s establishment in Canada in 1883 and internationally over 900 years ago.
“We are so proud to have been an active presence in the lives of British Columbia and Yukon communities for well over a century. We have empowered thousands through our first aid training, and through our volunteer-run programs, we have cared for the health, well-being and safety of so many,” said CEO Ty Speer.
Each year, St. John Ambulance trains over 65,000 students in lifesaving first aid skills so they can confidently take action and give aid during an emergency or severe injury at their workplace, their home or out in their community. The first documented training branch was opened in May 1911 in Victoria. Today, the charity has 19 branches that run both first aid courses and volunteer training and orientation sessions.
Outside of training, the charity has thousands of volunteers making a difference through their medical first responder, therapy dog and youth community service programs.
Throughout history, these volunteers have stepped up in dire times of need around the province and world, including providing medical aid during both World Wars and the Spanish Flu epidemic, emergency response during the B.C. Interior wildfires in 2017, and first aid support at vaccine clinics and quarantine sites during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“St. John Ambulance volunteers inspire us every day with their commitment to put the well-being of others before their own. From 1911 to now, their dedication has not wavered. I am hopeful and excited to watch our volunteer programs grow and evolve to continue to make a lasting impact,” said Jane Short, director of community services and fund development.
Each year, St. John Ambulance medical first responders provide first aid at small and large-scale events and emergency response during natural disasters. They also provide support during specific times of need such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In the therapy dog program, dogs and their handlers spread comfort and joy to those in need at facilities such as hospitals, care homes, schools, airports and more.
Through the youth program, young St. John Ambulance volunteers learn vital social and teamwork skills through leadership camps, first aid competitions and community service work.
“Whether it’s through training or volunteer services, St. John Ambulance has made a footprint in B.C. these past 110 years, but there’s still so much to accomplish,” said Speer. “We’re extremely grateful to everyone who supports our work and shares our mission of building happier and healthier communities.”