120 years of mateship: St John WA and the Perth Royal Show

Press Release
  • 2023 marked 120 years since St John WA volunteers first attended the Perth Royal Show,
  • The steadfast partnership has ensured show-goers are supported and have access to first aid when they need it.

St John WA volunteers have been showing up to Perth’s biggest agricultural showcase and community event for 120 years as part of the organisation’s 130-year legacy of serving humanity in Western Australia.

Every year since 1903, Event Heath Services (EHS) volunteers dedicate more the 200 hours to the Perth Royal Show to help safeguard attendees and show personnel by manning first aid stations and ambulance services at the Claremont Showgrounds.

“This year is our 120-year celebration at the Perth Royal Show,” EHS Operations Manager Melissa Deering told radio 6PR, marking the occasion.

“So September of 1903 was our very first activation where the [St John] men’s brigade trialed their first event in WA and then we formed in 1904 officially and have been here ever since and extremely proud of the presence that we have and the relationship that we’ve obviously built with Perth Royal Show.

“And just really from us, being here for our community and seeing the delightful faces of the kids so excited … is amazing.”

Mel said aside from typical bumps and bruises of being on showrides, people at the show most frequently become sun-affected or have forgotten to bring along regular medications. But 2021, provided quite a surprise.

“We had two of our ambulance officers that were actually treating an asthmatic patient and at the same time, we got a tap, tap on the shoulder ‘Mum’s not feeling the greatest’ down on I think it was Sideshow Alley – an active labour,” Mel said on air.

“We tried to take her up to our main site, we’ve got like a little mini hospital setting up here, … and unfortunately didn’t make it. She needed to use the bathroom facilities and along came baby.”

It was the first year a baby was born at the show, which also coincided with a baby goat being born the same day. Read the first-hand account from volunteers Liv and Nick.

In order to help prepare families for similar unforeseen health events, SJWA’s Youth and Community Engagement team also sets up a marquee designed to promote first aid and Triple Zero (000) awareness among children.

This year attracted about 50,000 visitors who got to enjoy virtual reality first aid, CPR races, the Wiggles ambulance, visits from Kura the Bear, as well as seeing the history of St John in WA on display.

Among this year’s EHS volunteers was SJWA Group CEO Kevin Brown, who enjoyed the show’s atmosphere and mingling with his fellow volunteers. 

He recommended anyone wishing to learn more about how to volunteer at SJWA to visit:

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