St John Ambulance is the name of a number of affiliated organizations in different countries which teach and provide first aid and emergency medical services, and are primarily staffed by volunteers. The associations are overseen by the International Order of St John and its priories (national branches).

Ambulance Saint-Jean, ou ASJ (en anglais: St. John Ambulance (SJA)), est une organisation sans but lucratif (OSBL) internationale. Sa mission est d'aider le public à améliorer sa santé, sa sécurité et sa qualité de vie à travers la formation et l'engagement communautaire.

Ambulance Saint-Jean est surtout présent au Royaume-Uni et dans les anciennes colonies britanniques, notamment le Canada, l'Australie, la Nouvelle-Zélande, l'Irlande, la Malaisie, Singapour et Hong Kong.

C'est au Canada, dans la province de Québec, qu'on retrouve la plus grande concentration de bénévoles francophones. Le Québec compte 1800 bénévoles, sur un total de 25 000 à l'échelle du pays.

Ambulance Saint-Jean tire ses origines dans l'ordre souverain militaire hospitalier de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem, de Rhodes et de Malte. Elle a été fondée en 1877. 

The first such organization to be founded was the St John Ambulance Association, which was founded in 1877 in England. Its first uniformed first-aiders were founded in 1887 as the St John Ambulance Brigade. These two have since been merged into a single association. St John Ambulance now has over 40 national organizations, many of which are affiliated with Johanniter International, and over 500,000 volunteers worldwide.

The Order of St John owns the brand name in most countries (with the notable exception of India, which has a St John Ambulance organization that is unconnected to the international movement). Logos vary in different countries but always contain the eight-pointed white Maltese cross as the essential identifier. Like the Order, St John Ambulance associations accept members of all religions. Their geographic organization differs from the Order, and they have to contend with the different national laws, medical practices and cultures of countries. As a result, the role and organization of St John Ambulance vary by country.

The legal status of each organization varies by country, province, state, county, territory and municipality. In both England and Wales, the resident St John Ambulance organizations are simultaneously but separately registered as charities and companies, whereas St John Ambulance South Africa (for example) is a distinct entity registered as a "public benefit organization".

The presence of St John Ambulance is different among countries:

Australia, British Armed forces, Canada, Cyprus, England, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, India, Ireland. Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Wales, Zimbabwe

St John Ambulance were traditionally organized with military-style ranks. Some associations have replaced these with civilian titles (e.g. Unit Manager, Superintendent).

Author: Dave Boven

Key dates England

This image of simple geometry is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain 

The Order of Saint John, formally the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem is an international order of chivalry which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Order founded the St John Ambulance associations and oversees their work. They also own the rights to the St John name and brand, including the Maltese Cross logo. The Order also oversees the St John Eye Hospital Group, which is separate from the ambulance associations. Most members of St John Ambulance are not themselves members of the Order, and vice versa, so a major presence of the Order does not dictate a major presence of St John Ambulance.

Key dates

Gatineau Quebec

St. John Ambulance in Canada, or SJA (French: Ambulance Saint-Jean Canada (ASJ), is a confederation of St John Ambulance Provincial and Territorial Councils under mandate by the "St John Councils Regulations 1975" of the Royal Charter, Statutes and Regulations of the Order of St John (1985). Each Council is governed by a Board of Directors under Provincial or Territorial incorporating legislation together with the St John Ambulance Priory in Canada, incorporated under the federal Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act (2012). The Priory provides support services to the Councils and manages the Order of St. John in Canada. The Councils deliver the mandate of training and community services and are responsible for their own governance, operations and management.

The mission of St. John Ambulance in Canada is to enable Canadians to improve their health, safety, and quality of life through training and community service. St John Ambulance in Canada has (collectively) close to 25,000 members in communities across Canada - over 3,500 instructors, over 19,000 volunteers and over 7,000 members of the Order of St John.

St. John Ambulance was established in Canada in 1883. Under this banner, volunteers from coast to coast carry out the humanitarian services of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

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. in 2008 Canada Post issued a similar envelope/stamp in recognition of the 125th Anniversary of SJAC.


Led by a highly skilled network of medical and health care professionals. St. John Ambulance in Canada is a recognized leader in first aid and CPR training and community services, working with other organizations in setting the standards for training in first aid, CPR and other life-saving skills. St. John Ambulance in Canada also offers many advanced-level courses including the Medical First Responder (MFR) and Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) in several provinces

Medical First Response Services

A St John Ambulance in York Region, Ontario

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 in the new Medical First Responder (MFR) program. 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, the 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 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 headdresses, 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.

Air and Ground Ambulance Services are no longer offered by St John Ambulance Councils in Canada. New Brunswick and Northwest Territoires Councils once offered such services.

Ayant pour mission d'informer le public afin de donner aux gens les outils pour sauver des vies, Ambulance Saint-Jean offre diverses formations en secourisme et en premiers soins. Ces formations, offertes à un prix modique, constituent, avec les dons de charité, l'une des principales sources de financement des autres activités de bienfaisance de l'organisme. 

Anciennement connus sous le nom de «Brigade», les Services à la collectivité d'Ambulance Saint-Jean rassemblent l'ensemble des opérations des premiers répondants bénévoles, secouristes et intervenant médicaux d'urgence.

Au Canada, ils sont au nombre de 25 000, dont 1800 au Québec.

C'est à Peterborough (Ontario) que le programme de thérapie par les chiens d'ASJ vit le jour. Aujourd'hui, les maîtres-chiens bénévoles sont présents dans les hôpitaux, les unités de soins palliatifs, les hôpitaux psychiatriques, les garderies, les résidences pour aînés, dans les maisons de repos et même dans les écoles. Les bienfaits de la thérapie assistée par les animaux sont multiples; il fut prouvé qu'elle pouvait notamment faire diminuer la pression sanguine et le rythme cardiaque de certains patients, de même qu'une possible amélioration des interactions sociales 

Therapy Dog

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, daycare centres, senior residences, rest homes, special needs schools, psychiatric hospitals where people are often restricted from having pets and the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). 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.

Disaster planning and aid

In times of emergency, SJAC can be placed on standby, waiting to provide disaster relief and emergency services to the affected area. Exactly what procedures are taken greatly depends on local Disaster Management planners, however, the government of Canada has officially recognized the role SJAC fills in the process. Supplies and equipment may vary as well as the number 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. This program is under review in New Brunswick as such a program is no longer established in most cities in the province.



International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement & Order of Malta

Canadian Red Cross