Journal Volume 3 2000

They Answered the Call (continued/2)

St. John Ambulance Brigade

The St. John Ambulance Brigade in Ireland is a voluntary organisation, non-sectarian and non-political, and exists for the purpose of maintaining a body of trained men and women in readiness for First Aid assistance to the sick and injured on public occasions. It is a permanent organisation in time of Peace, ready and available in time of Emergency.

The primary purpose and aim of the St. John Ambulance Brigade is to provide a uniformed voluntary First Aid Service committed to the assistance of the general public wherever crowds gather and accidents and illnesses may be expected to occur. This role has been faithfully performed by generations of dedicated St. John Ambulance Volunteers for over 90 years.

Dr John Lumsden (later Sir) founder of St John Ambulance ( St. John Ambulance Brigade in Ireland was formed in 1904 in St. James's Gate Brewery, and it was not long before others Divisions for male and female members were established. The 1907 International Exhibition held in Dublin's Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, was the first opportunity for the Brigade to show publicly what it could do when it undertook public duty by establishing a First Aid and Rest Hut in the Exhibition grounds. During World War 1 many members of the Brigade volunteered for active service on the battlefronts, while at home there was a rapid expansion of the organisation, and over succeeding decades the Brigade won recognition from the Government and the general public as an organisation which provided first aid services. Its members were seen frequently in their first aid role at a vast array of public events, in theatres, cinemas and places were large crowds gathered.

In 1935, 2 Officers of the St. John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland, Superintendent G.W. Belton and Lady Superintendent Miss Burroughs, completed a course as A.R.P. instructors in London and on their return were examined by Comdt. M. Nolan, OIC Chemical Warfare Department of the Army, and were passed as qualified Grade 1 A.R.P. Instructors - the first in Ireland. In 1936, 36 Brigade officers were given an A.R.P. Course in Dublin by Comdt. Nolan, during which they were brought to the Curragh, where they received practical demonstrations in the use of gas. Following examinations, 36 Grade I Certificates were awarded and these instructors began giving lectures to Brigade personnel, who in due course qualified for Certificates. When the Government Civil Anti-Gas School opened at Griffith Barracks, Dublin, 12 members of the Brigade attended, 6 receiving Special Certificates and 6 the 1st Class Instructor's Certificate.

When the Air Raid Precautions Act (1939) was implemented, Dublin Corporation recognised that the St. John Ambulance Brigade was the only organisation which could hope to establish an A.R.P. Casualty Service and the organisation was placed by the Commissioner, Sir John Lumsden, at the disposal of the Corporation. A similar offer was made to Dun Laoghaire Corporation which was accepted by them, and in all the Scheduled Areas where A.R.P. Schemes had to be implemented and members of the organisation were available, they became part of the local A.R.P. organisation. Members of the organisation were involved in every aspect of A.R.P. work, and also worked closely with the Irish Red Cross Society which was not established until 1939, and assisted in the training of their personnel.


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