The St John Singapore, a charitable humanitarian organisation, can trace their origins to the 19th century. A dedicated and determined group set up the British Order of St John to care for the sick.
The suffering of workers was one of their main concerns, and the movement spread rapidly across Britain’s overseas colonies until it reached Singapore.
And now, St John Brigade Singapore (SJBS) has brought aid to Cambodia through volunteer missions in the Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, Koh Kong and Kampong Speu provinces. Andrew Tay, a long-time resident in Cambodia and the managing director of Himawari Hotel Apartments, he is also the president of St John Brigade Singapore Zone 2.
Volunteering at Zone 2 since he was in secondary school, Mr Tay said he relished the opportunities the Brigade has offered to him in Cambodia, and the services he has been able to provide.
Mr Tay said first aid training was one of the key ways he thought St John provided community support and support for his members.
“St John Phnom Penh mainly help the youth by building their confidence and leadership,” he said.
“After learning and having passed their courses, members will apply their skills by attending public duties through public held events, such as concerts, carnivals, and sports event such as football and marathon.”
He said trained members could be then passed on to hospital and ambulance service around the country.
As Phnom Penh and the country continues to develop, Mr Tay said demand has grown for qualified first aid practitioners, with public events becoming more large and extravagant.
“I have seen the country improve quite a bit in the last few years, but that also means people want to see more entertainment such as a bigger concerts, more sporting activities, more food fairs and carnivals, and that means more safety and first-aid providers are required,” he said. He also made a similar note on Cambodia’s workplace environment.
“With more industries, companies, and agencies being set up in Cambodia, that means we need more trained first-aiders in the workplace,” he said.
Mr Tay said there was still a severe shortage of people trained in first aid, noting that it will continue to be the keystone operation here in Cambodia.
“Our plan for expansion is to raise more funds that will in turn support and increase more volunteers, to provide better training for our members and the public, and to provide better life saving equipment and even buying an ambulance to provide public services,” he said.
However, he noted that they provided some humanitarian services to the Kingdom, such as donating wells, give first-aid lectures and conduct health screenings. They also attend ceremonies such as Anzac Day at the Australian Embassy and the birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr Tay hopes that the services St John Brigade provides, will help save more lives across Cambodia, but noted that it would not be possible without the donations and support from the government, NGOs and the public.
“With more people trained in first-aid, probably more lives will be saved,” he said.
“St John Phnom Penh hopes to provide the care and meet the needs for the people when it comes to First-Aid, at the same time we require support and cooperation from the NGOs, government and both from the public and private sectors.”