On 30th April 1885, a meeting was held in Christchurch concerning the formation of a St John medical service for those in desperate need in the city. For those who couldn’t afford a doctor, all sorts of treatments and cures were undertaken that were dangerously based on old wives tales and sketchy knowledge passed down from generation to generation.
In attendance, amongst a few concerned doctors, was Christchurch Mayor – the Hon. Charles Partridge Hulbert – with numerous mayors from the surrounding city boroughs. Together they formed a committee and soon, other branches of St John spread out across New Zealand. First Aid and patient transportation was the first services on offer.
St John is one of the world’s oldest service organisations. The first St John was opened in the year 1070 AD in Jerusalem. It was a hospice run by Monks offering rest and recuperation to the thousands of Christians making the pilgrimage to the Holy City every year.
Today in New Zealand, St John is a charitable organisation, its emergency and non-emergency health care services covering 90% of the country. They also run community first aid training, youth and volunteer programmes while also assisting home-bound or dependent people with medical alarms, call in carers and mobility services between patient’s home and hospital. Additional funding and support is given by the Ministry of Health, A.C.C., numerous District Health Boards and part charges for Ambulance call-outs. St John is always grateful to receive donations and annually fundraise to keep their valuable public service reachable to those who are always in need.
St John’s logo is a well recognised icon. The logo incorporates the ‘Amalfi Cross’, a symbol with four arms and eight points. Every part of the cross has a meaning linked to four cardinal virtues and the eight qualities of a first aider.
* Some direct text content courtesy of St John – http://www.stjohn.org.nz*
* Image courtesy of The Cyclopedia of New Zealand – http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/22349/early-st-john-ambulance*