ST. JOHN BRIGADE
St. John Brigade activities was recognised and incorporated in 1888 as the Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England. Britain was one of the first countries to become industrial and in the 19th century there were many dangerous workplaces. Accidents were frequent but workers rarely saw a doctor in time. Death or disability from untreated injuries was common. Members of the Order of St John wanted to find a way to help. They decided to train ordinary people in first aid so accident victims could be treated quickly and on the spot, and in 1877 they set up St John Ambulance to do this.
Classes were set up across the country, particularly in workplaces and areas of heavy industry, but also in villages, seaside towns and middle class suburbs. In 1887 trained volunteers were organised into a uniformed Brigade to provide a first aid and ambulance service at public events. In many parts of Britain, St John was the first and only provider of an ambulance service right up to the middle of the 20th century, when the National Health Service was founded. When there were far fewer doctors and hospital beds than today, St John nurses looked after the sick and injured in their own homes. There were originally three charitable Foundations of the modern Order. One, which became The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Foundation, was established in 1882. The St John Ambulance Association, which was concerned with training the public in first aid, was established in 1877 and, the third was The St John Ambulance Brigade, which provided first aid care to the public. It had its origins in 1873, and became a Foundation in 1887.
The St John Ambulance Association and The St John Ambulance Brigade were amalgamated in 1974 to form the present St John Ambulance Foundation. St John Ambulance was originally divided into two fields, teaching first aid to workplace employees via the St. John Ambulance Association, and providing uniformed medical volunteers to cover public and private events via the St. John Ambulance Brigade. However, these two entities merged in 1968 to form a single unified St. John Ambulance, providing both training and first-aid cover.
FIRST AID AT RICHMOND
First is always associated with Cadetting and Scouting. Richmond has been one of the few schools in then Ceylon have had a unit for First Aid. The cadetts and scouts were always trained in first aid as the nature of both activities necessiated a good knowledge of first aid. Lt. R. V. Janz E.D. who was in the staff of Richmond was involved in college cadetting was also the first aid instructor. From the token of a Cadet Master being a First Aid instructor it can be safely assumed that First aid was practiced from way back in 1876.
When cadetting was reintroduced in early sixties First Aid unit was organised and during the Scout Jamboree and College Exhibition the unit provided first aid for those who required assistance. There were several instances where many injured their feet hitting the the toes against pegs driven on college grounds to secure many tents that were pitched during the Jamboree. Training of Cadets and Scouts were by a member of the St. John’s Brigade.
In 1966 that genial head of the Kindergarten Ms. G. B. Liyanage together with Mr. U. de A. Panditha who as a Queen’s Scout had his first aid training started the St. John’s Brigade proper. Many students have taken part in various competetions and has won many awards.