St John prepared for anything as day turned to night for solar eclipse in Exmouth

Press Release
  • St John WA supported local staff and volunteers by deploying about 50 front-line personnel from around WA to four different locations to support ambulance response,
  • Partnered in an interagency social media awareness campaign to promote travel health messages and key eclipse eye safety messages,
  • The investment in preparedness allowed St John WA to respond smoothly and tested emergency management practice for future incidents.

Thousands of people from all over the world gathered to witness the rare occurrence of a total solar eclipse in Exmouth, Onslow, Coral Bay and Carnarvon, and St John WA was right there with them.

From Carnarvon to Onslow, people were in awe as the sky turned dark and the stars shone bright in the middle of the day for a minute at 11:29am on April 20, 2023.

As with any major event, the influx of visitors brought with it the need for emergency medical response.

As part of an interagency team, St John was at the forefront of managing the emergency medical response to the area and was one of 14 State agencies combining with local and Federal Government, and private business operators to put on an outstanding week-long experience right across the region.

In addition to local staff and volunteers, St John deployed about 50 frontline personnel from around WA, including Ambulance Paramedics, Volunteer support, Patient Transport Officers, Special Operations Paramedics, Critical Care Paramedics, and a surge workforce, including Event Health Services personnel, PTOs, and APs.

To help mitigate risk, St John WA partnered in an interagency social media awareness campaign, promoting travel health messages including the promotion of the St John First Responder app and the ‘Click to Save’ online course, as well as key eclipse eye safety messages to ensure people understood the dangers of looking directly at the sun.

Head of Special Operations, Joe Cuthbertson said the response was smooth due to the investment in preparedness.

“We had people from all across the organisation in different areas, all coming together,” he said.

“We saw local crews working with paramedics from metro and country areas, with EHS staff, creating a nice team environment.

“St John had four different remote sites that were deployed into an ambulance command set-up at one central location in Exmouth over multiple days.

“This allowed for faster response times to a broad scope of incidents happening concurrently, including mass gathering events like concerts and science festivals.”

Mr Cuthbertson stressed the importance of disaster management preparedness.

“Unplanned natural disasters will occur in the future, and events like this stress-test the system,” he said.

“The investment in preparedness allows for the identification of improvement opportunities, so they are better prepared in the future.”

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