Boost for local chapter of St John Ambulance

Boost for local chapter of St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance Singapore will soon have a say in charting the direction of the global group, which has a presence in 42 countries, when it is elevated to the status of Priory next week.

This milestone will put it on a par with the nine most established chapters in the world, including those in the United States and England.

The inauguration ceremony next Saturday at the British High Commission will see the chairman of the local St John Council, Dr Teh Peng Hooi, installed as the First Prior of the Priory of Singapore.

The orthopaedic surgeon will also be conferred the rank of Knight of Justice within the Order of St John, the first person in Singapore - and Asia - to receive the title.

The status of Priory is conferred on "the most substantial and longest established organisations of the order", said a St John Singapore spokesman.

The Singapore chapter will have a say in the Grand Council in London, and help chart the future direction of St John around the world. Dr Teh said a prior has to think about how to extend the organisation to neighbouring countries through mentorship.

"Formerly, we were less outward-looking. Now, we've got to look beyond and assist countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia," said Dr Teh.

The local chapter of St John Ambulance traces its roots to Dr J.S. Webster, a radiologist with the medical services of the Singapore General Hospital, who in 1935 began organising first-aid talks with fellow doctors. The organisation formed its first brigade in 1938.

The brigade is today considered one of nine main uniformed groups that secondary school students can join as part of their co-curricular activities (CCAs).

Besides being involved in charity work, the St John Ambulance Association conducts a variety of first-aid, home-nursing and childcare courses for members of the public, including the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators.

The organisation also intends to build and run a day-care rehabilitation centre for the disabled within the next few years.

There are 10,000 members in St John Ambulance Brigade, with about 9,000 of them adults and the rest in the CCA, said the spokesman.

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