St. John Ambulance Canada

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St. John Ambulance Canada
Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada
St. John Ambulance Canada Logo.svg
St. John Ambulance Canada logo. The red maple leaf surrounding the traditional roundel is seen only on the Canadian version of the logo.
Abbreviation SJAC
Formation 1882
Type Organizations based in Canada with royal patronage
Legal status active
Purpose advocate and public voice, educator and network
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Region served
25,000 members in more than 300 communities
Official language
English, French

St. John Ambulance Canada, or SJAC (French: Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada (ASJC)), is the Canadian chapter of St. John Ambulance (SJA), a worldwide non-profit first aid training organization. The mission of St. John Ambulance Canada is to enable Canadians to improve their health, safety, and quality of life through training and community service.[1] SJAC has more than 25,000 members in communities across Canada.


St. John Ambulance was founded in Canada in 1882. Under this banner, volunteers from coast-to-coast carry out the humanitarian services of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

In 1897 the Dominion Council of Canada was established in Ottawa to give legitimacy to the operations of St John Ambulance Brigade in Canada. At the same time St. John Ambulance Brigade activities commenced in Manitoba, British Columbia, and the North-West Territories.

In 1939, the Dominion Council of Canada became the Commandery of Canada due its increasing activity and social need for first aid services and training.

In 1946, the Priory of Canada of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was established. This was done in recognition of two needs:

  • the expanding role and activities of the St. John Ambulance Association and the St. John Ambulance Brigade throughout Canada, and
  • the need to transfer the governance of the Order to the national capital, Ottawa, and away from being under the governance of the Priory of England and the Islands.
St. John Ambulance Canada plaque at Royal Military College of Canada

In 2008, St. John Ambulance Canada celebrated its 125 anniversary. A plaque commemorates the 125th anniversary of the completion of the inaugural St. John Ambulance Canada first aid course conducted at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, for the benefit of gentlemen cadets and staff in 1883-4 and initiated a close and continuous association that has been forged in both peace and war, between St. John Ambulance and the Canadian Forces.[2]


On 3 January 1982, Canada Post issued 'St. John Ambulance, 1883-1983' designed by Louis Fishauf. The 32¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited.[3]


Led by a highly skilled network of medical and health care professionals, SJAC is a national leader in first aid, working with other organizations in setting the standards for training in first aid, CPR and other life-saving skills. SJAC also offers many advanced level courses including the Medical First Responder (MFR) and Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) in several provinces. SJAC no longer offers Paramedic Training because the schools were sold to Medavie EMS. St. John Ambulance also offers courses in pet first aid to the community.

Medical First Response Services[edit]

The Medical First Response Services were formerly known as St. John Ambulance Brigade and are often still referred to as such, both within the organization and by others. Each MFRS unit are a group of trained volunteers that serve within their community in a variety of ways. Services include first aid services at public events, Medical Services support in times of emergency or disaster, and youth programs that encourage community service and personal development.

SJAC provides patient care and first responder services at public events throughout Canada with their Volunteer Community Services, much in the same way as in England. Members in Canada wear a similar uniform, and are trained to the new Medical First Responder (MFR) program.[4] In Nova Scotia, the volunteers no longer use the term "Brigade" or "Ambulance". They are now referred to as "St John Volunteer Medical Response". This change came about in an attempt to better reflect what the volunteers can offer to their communities.

Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and British Columbia are the only provinces that still wear their full uniform. In Ontario, operational (duty) uniform consists of a pair of black cargo pants (or tactical pants), a button up black shirt (with 'Medical First Responder' reflective on the back) or a Polo shirt. All will be marked with "Medical First Response" and "St. John Ambulance Volunteer" crests on both sleeves. Members in training or are working towards their MFR qualification will either wear a white shirt with "St John Ambulance Volunteer" crests on both sleeves, a black polo shirt, or an unmarked white dress shirt for probationary observers. Worth noting is that probationary observers already have a minimum of standard first aid training plus police security clearance. Rankings are clearly marked on epaulettes. For ceremonial, winter or certain indoor functions a black wool sweater and a black tie are also worn. For head dress, a SJA hat/ cap may be worn at outdoor events. A beret/ peak cap is worn for ceremonial or winter functions. Footwear consists of a pair of black boots/ shoes. It is important to note that Officers (with ranks of 1 pips and above) are also entitled to wear their ceremonial (No. 1) uniforms. The uniform consists of an officer's cap, a white shirt with tie, a tunic with metal buttons, pins, rank pips and full medals, a pair of black pants or skirt and black dress shoes.

Therapy Dog[edit]

The SJA Therapy Dog Program began in 1992 in Peterborough, Ontario and has expanded across the country. Partnerships have been established in hospitals, palliative care units, day care centres, senior residences, rest homes, special needs schools and psychiatric hospitals where people are often restricted from having pets. The Therapy Dog program sees a volunteer and their dog make visits to an institution, often on a weekly basis. Before beginning the handler and their dog undergo extensive testing to ensure the animal has the right temperament for the program. There are many benefits to animal assisted therapy, including decreased blood pressure and heart rate in patients as well as a chance for positive social interaction.[5]

We Can Help[edit]

SJAC provides elementary school students with the We Can Help Program, which provides children with an introduction to first aid skills and basic injury prevention messages, is designed for children ages seven through ten. Children today are often given a great deal of responsibility, and the intention of this program is to ensure that their knowledge of safety is as strong as possible.

Friends of the Emergency Room[edit]

The Friends of the Emergency Room program volunteers provide comfort and support services to people who access the emergency department at some hospitals in Alberta.

The Friends are an important part of the emergency room care team. Friends are there to provide patients and their companions with comfort and support while in the waiting room.

Youth Programs[edit]

Youth in SJAC are a very important part of the organization as well. The proficiency program allows youth members to gain the Grand Prior's award, as well as work toward the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Proficiencies are awarded for such demonstration of knowledge of subjects, both related and unrelated to the organization. The program is designed to meet the requirements of the Grand Prior's Award, and to give the youth valuable life skills. The Grand Prior's Award is achieved when the adolescent has completed 6 compulsory and 6 elective proficiency courses. In addition to this, youth members are given the opportunity to perform community service at public events, provided that they are supervised by trained adult members.

Disaster planning and aid[edit]

In times of emergency, SJAC can be placed on standby, waiting to provide disaster relief and emergency services to the effected area. Exactly what procedures are taken greatly depends on local Disaster Management planners, however the government of Canada has officially recognised the role SJAC fills in the process.[1] Supplies and equipment may vary as well as numbers of personnel immediately available in the area, but SJAC does have a plan already in place, in the form of the National Duty Officer, for the callup of additional personnel and equipment to augment local Units.[2] This program is under review in New Brunswick as such a program is no longer established in most cites in the province.

Positions, ranks and insignia[edit]

The St. John Ambulance Canada utilises UK-pattern military rank insignia similar to the current rank insignia of the Canadian Army. Physicians have epaulets with red borders. Registered Nurses wear their rank insignia over a red bar. Licensed Practical Nurses wear their insignia over a green bar while Paramedics wear theirs over a blue bar. Medical First Responders wear epaulets with one or two orange bars (Uniform standards were changed in 2008, but many members still have the older epaulets.)

Insignia Positions
Crown over pip over two crossed stretchers, all in silver (insignia of a General) National Commissioner
Crown over two crossed stretchers, all in silver (insignia of a Lieutenant-General) National Deputy Commissioner
Pip over two crossed stretchers, all in silver (insignia of a Major-General) National Medical Officer
National Nursing Officer
National Training Officer
National Cadet Officer
National Planning Officer
National Therapy Dog Coordinator
National Administrative Officer
Provincial Commissioner
Crown over three pips in a triangle formation, all in silver (insignia of a Brigadier) National Deputy Medical Officer
National Deputy Nursing Officer
National Deputy Training Officer
National Deputy Cadet Officer
Provincial Deputy Commissioner
Crown over two pips, all in silver (insignia of a Colonel) Provincial Medical Officer
Provincial Nursing Officer
Provincial Cadet Officer
Provincial Training Officer
Provincial Administrative Officer
Provincial Planning Officer
Provincial Therapy Dog Coordinator
Provincial Operations Officer
Provincial Chief Staff Officer
Area Commissioner
Crown over pip, all in silver (insignia of a Lieutenant-Colonel) National Staff Officer
Provincial Deputy Medical Officer
Provincial Deputy Nursing Officer
Area Medical Officer
Area Nursing Officer
Area Training Officer
Area Cadet Officer
Area Administrative Officer
Area Therapy Dog Coordinator
Crown over pip over bar, all in silver Corps Superintendent
Crown in silver (insignia of a Major) Area Staff Officer
Provincial Staff Officer
Crown over bar, all in silver Corps Medical Officer
Corps Nursing Officer
Corps Training Officer
Corps Cadet Officer
Three silver pips (insignia of a Captain) Provincial Staff Officer
Area Staff Officer
Division Superintendent
Division Medical Officer
Division Nursing Officer
Division Therapy Dog Coordinator
Three pips over bar, all in silver Corps Staff Officer
Two silver pips (insignia of a Lieutenant) Provincial Staff Officer
Area Staff Officer
Division Staff Officer
Division Provisional Officer
Division Training Officer
Division Administrative Officer
Division Community Service Coordinator
Division Asst. Therapy Dog Coordinator
Two pips over bar, in silver Corps Staff Officer
Silver pip (insignia of a Second Lieutenant) Provincial Staff Officer
Area Staff Officer
Division Staff Officer
Division Provisional Officer
Silver pip over bar Corps Staff Officer
Three white upward-pointing chevrons Sergeant
Therapy Dog Evaluator
Two white upward-pointing chevrons Corporal
Blank epaulet Member


See also[edit]


External links[edit]