St John Ambulance

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St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance region map.svg
Countries with national St John Ambulance organisations
Parent organisation
Order of Saint John (chartered 1888)
500,000[ citation needed ]

St John Ambulance is the name of a number of affiliated organisations in different countries which teach and provide first aid and emergency medical services, and are primarily staffed by volunteers. The associations are overseen by the international Order of St John and its priories (national branches).



The first such organisation to be founded was the St John Ambulance Association, which was founded in 1877 in England. [1] Its first uniformed first-aiders were founded in 1887 as the St John Ambulance Brigade. [1] [2] These two have since been merged into a single association. St John Ambulance now have over 40 national organisations, many of which are affiliated with Johanniter International, and over 500,000 volunteers worldwide. [1]

The Order of St John owns the brand name in most countries (with the notable exception of India, which has a St John Ambulance organisation that is unconnected to the international movement). Logos vary in different countries but always contain the eight-pointed white Maltese cross as the essential identifier. Like the Order, St John Ambulance associations accept members of all religions. Their geographic organisation differs from the Order, and they have to contend with the differing national laws, medical practices and cultures of countries. As a result, the role and organisation of St John Ambulance varies by country.


The legal status of each organisation varies by country, province, state, county, territory and municipality. In both England and Wales the resident St John Ambulance organisations are simultaneously but separately registered as charities and companies, whereas St John Ambulance South Africa (for example) is a distinct entity registered as a "public benefit organisation".

The presence of St John Ambulance is different among countries:

St John Ambulance were traditionally organised with military-style ranks. Some associations have replaced these with civilian titles (e.g. Unit Manager, Superintendent).

Johanniter International

In the aftermath of World War II, British soldiers established Saint John brigades in Germany. In cooperation with the Johanniter Orden (the Protestant German Order of Saint John), the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe was founded in 1952. In recent years, more national Saint John societies, not directly linked to the British St John Ambulance, have been founded in Europe, notably in Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Poland.

At the international meeting of the governing bodies of the Orders of Saint John in the course of celebrations to mark the Order's 90th anniversary in 1999, the idea to cooperate more intensively within Europe was born. As a result, Johanniter International (JOIN) today links sixteen national Saint John organisations all over Europe.

Relationship with the Order

Logo of the Order of St John. Star - Venerable Order of St John.jpg
Logo of the Order of St John.

The Order of Saint John, formally the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem is an international order of chivalry which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Order founded the St John Ambulance associations and oversees their work. They also own the rights to the St John name and brand, including the Maltese Cross logo. The Order also oversee the St John Eye Hospital Group, which is separate to the ambulance associations. Most members of St John Ambulance are not themselves members of the Order, and vice versa, so a major presence of the Order does not dictate a major presence of St John Ambulance.

Key dates

The St John logo appears on the right door of several models of the TARDIS in the long-running British series Doctor Who . This was copied from British police telephone boxes, from the 1970s and earlier, the larger versions on which the TARDIS is modelled contained a folding canvas stretcher and a first aid kit provided by St John Ambulance. These boxes pre-dated universal radio communication and enabled both patrolling police officers to contact their station and members of the public to call for assistance. If a call came in for the officers the blue light on the roof would flash.

The St John logo also appears on the windows of a hut dedicated to first aid at a Church Fair shown in an episode of Jeeves and Wooster . [6]

In 2016, the UK St John Ambulance organisation, via its website, launched a campaign for baby CPR featuring a song by animated nursery rhyme characters, including Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Incy Wincy Spider and The Cat and The Fiddle. [7]

See also

Topics related to St John Ambulance and the Order:

Similar movements:

Related Research Articles

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Museum of the Order of St John

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Maltese cross

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Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg)

The Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Chivalric Order of Saint John of the Hospital at Jerusalem, commonly known as the Order of Saint John or the Johanniter Order, is the German Protestant branch of the Knights Hospitaller, the oldest surviving chivalric order, which generally is considered to have been founded in Jerusalem in the year 1099 AD.

St. Andrews First Aid

St Andrew's First Aid is a charity based in Scotland. Founded in 1882, St Andrew's Ambulance Association was Scotland's first ambulance service. From 1967 the St. Andrew's Scottish Ambulance Service was the sole contractor for the provision of the ambulance service, until 1974 when the National Health Service was reorganised and St Andrew's ambulance role was absorbed into the Scottish Ambulance Service. The St Andrew's association continued as a provider of first aid services and training, changing their trading name.

St John Ambulance (England) first aid organisation based in England

St John Ambulance is a volunteer-led, charitable non-governmental organisation dedicated to the teaching and practice of first aid in England. Along with St John Ambulance Cymru, St John Ambulance Northern Ireland, and St John Scotland, St John Ambulance is one of four affiliates of the international St John Ambulance movement in the United Kingdom.

St. John Ambulance Canada

St. John Ambulance in Canada, or SJA (French: Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada, is a confederation of St John Ambulance Provincial and Territorial Councils under mandate by the "St John Councils Regulations 1975" of the Royal Charter, Statutes and Regulations of the Order of St John. Each Council is governed by a Board of Directors under Provincial or Territorial incorporating legislation together with the St John Ambulance Priory in Canada, incorporated under the federal Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act. The Priory provides support services to the Councils and manages the Order of St. John in Canada. The Councils deliver the mandate of training and community services and are responsible for their own governance, operations and management.

St John New Zealand

St John New Zealand is a charitable organisation providing healthcare services to the New Zealand public. The organisation provides ambulance services throughout New Zealand, as well as certain other health services.

Hong Kong St. John Ambulance

Hong Kong St. John Ambulance is a charitable organisation with a long history stretching back over a century and has been serving the community since 1884. Adhered to its motto, "For the Service of Mankind", the organisation is dedicated to providing first aid and ambulance services in emergency, dental care for the handicapped, and courses of instructions on first aid and home nursing for the general public.

St John Ambulance Ireland (SJAI), previously known as the St John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland, is a charitable voluntary organisation in Ireland. For constitutional reasons it is not a full member association of the Venerable Order of Saint John and the international St. John Ambulance movement, but rather is classed as an "associated body". The organisation is dedicated to the teaching and practice of medical first aid. It is engaged in first aid training to the public, providing first aid and ambulance cover at public events, patient transport and community services.

Order of Malta Ambulance Corps

The Order of Malta Ireland – Ambulance Corps is a voluntary ambulance and first aid organisation operating in Ireland in affiliation with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, founded in 1938.

Knights Hospitaller Medieval and early-modern Catholic military order

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller, the Knights of Rhodes, the Knights of Malta, or the Order of Saint John, was a medieval and early modern Catholic military order. It was headquartered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem until 1291, on the island of Rhodes from 1310 until 1522, in Malta from 1530 until 1798 and at Saint Petersburg from 1799 until 1801. Today several organizations continue the Hospitaller tradition, specifically the mutually recognised orders of St. John which are Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John, the Johanniterorden, the Johanniter Orde in Nederland, the Johanniterorden i Sverige.

St John Singapore

St John Singapore, previously known as St John Ambulance Singapore, is a voluntary secular organisation in Singapore which provides training in First Aid and Home Nursing. It is affiliated with the Order of St. John based in the UK. Its ambulance members and nursing members perform voluntary first aid coverage duties during national events and other events. It comprises 3 sub-organisations, namely the St John Brigade Singapore, St John Association Singapore, St John Fellowship Singapore.

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V., commonly referred to as Die Johanniter, is a voluntary humanitarian organisation affiliated with the Brandenburg Bailiwick of the Order of St John, the German Protestant descendant of the Knights Hospitaller. The organisation was founded in 1952 in Hanover under the leadership of Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff. One of the main reasons for its creation was the rise in injuries and deaths from road traffic accidents. JUH participates in international aid efforts together with its sister organisations in other countries as part of the Johanniter International partnership; it also works with the German Malteser Hilfsdienst, affiliated to the Catholic Sovereign Military Order of Malta. As of 2017 the organisation had 37,000 active volunteers and youth members and around 1,300,000 registered members.

Johanniter International

Johanniter International (JOIN) is the partnership of the four protestant Orders of St. John and their national charities. Its member organisations, based in Europe and the Middle East, work in close cooperation and are supported by more than 100,000 volunteers. They serve humanity with medical services and first aid, social care, international aid, disaster relief and youth work. The services of JOIN’s member organisations are open to everyone.


The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is an independent statutory organisation responsible for implementing, monitoring and further developing the standards of care provided by all statutory, private and voluntary ambulance services in Ireland. It is also responsible for conducting examinations at six levels of pre-hospital care, the control of ambulance practitioner registration and the publication of clinical practice guidelines.

St John Ambulance Cymru

St John Ambulance Cymru is a charity dedicated to the teaching and practice of first aid. It is a subsidiary charity of the Priory for Wales of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Aktion Deutschland Hilft e.V. – Bündnis deutscher Hilfsorganisationen (ADH) with headquarter in Bonn is a connection of German Aid agencies for Humanitarian aid, with the target to help faster and more efficient through coordination and combination of efforts in case of a disaster and to raise Donations together.


  1. 1 2 3 The Difference – newsletter from St John Ambulance, (Nov 2014) p4 "A Brief History of St John Ambulance"
  2. M Durrant (1948) American Journal of Nursing48 (12) pp763–765 "St. John Ambulance Brigade"
  3. "St John Gibraltar". Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  4. "St John PNG". Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  5. "History in Summary". St John International. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  6. "Jeeves and Wooster (1990–1993): The Village Sports Day at Twing". IMDb.
  7. Harris, Kelly (23 January 2016). "St John Ambulance launches nursery rhyme-themed campaign to teach baby CPR to parents". Dudley News .