Mike Masellis

By Gary Thandi


When I was asked by Dristhi Magazine to visit Saint John Ambulance’s Surrey branch, I assumed I would receive a quick overview of all the various types of first aid and emergency training they provide. After all, Saint John Ambulance is an international non-profit organization, and is Canada’s premier first aid and emergency training organization. It initially established itself in Quebec in 1883 and shortly thereafter expanded into other parts of the nation. Today there are nearly 100 locations across Canada.

In 2013 alone, over 105 000 students in British Columbia were trained in the various programs the organization offers. Nation-wide the number is over 550 000. This training was provided by over 400 certified instructors. Some of the courses Saint John Ambulance offers include: workplace safety; pre-hospital and healthcare; CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator); emergency and first aid; specialized industry; family, children and youth; instructor development, pet first aid; online courses; come home safe; bullying and harassment; food safety and oil and gas. Their courses provide complete and comprehensive information and skills that can help in an emergency situation at work, home and at play.

Yet I was surprised to learn that first aid and emergency training and preparation is just one aspect of what Saint John Ambulance does. The organization’s mission is to enable Canadians to improve their health, safety and quality of life by providing training and community service. This community service comes in various forms:

  • A therapy dog program, where volunteers and canine partners visit seniors and children in need, offering friendship and support. Therapy dogs can help meet the needs for physical touch. Stroking and touching a dog have proven to lower blood pressure, calm people who may be agitated, and refresh the mind of those who are confused.
  • Paws 4 Stories, which promotes improvement in the reading skills of children. The idea is to have a child relax while reading out loud to a Therapy Dog.
  • Free CPR day, a province-wide event that teaches thousands the life-saving skills of cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Medical First Responders, where trained volunteers attend large or small community events, providing medical support as needed
  • Emergency Response, where Saint John Ambulance members provide support to communities impacted by an emergency event such as a flood, wildfire or earthquake
  • Emergency preparedness, helping educate communities to ensure they are prepared for an emergency challenge
  • School program, reaching out to elementary and secondary schools to empower children and youth on how to act in an emergency and helping them to recognize and reduce risky behaviours
  • Community Service and empathy programs, connecting youth to adult volunteers and supporting the youth’s engagement in volunteer activities
  • Saint John Ambulance Cadets, who learn to stay safe, help others and save lives. These cadets learn compassion and a sense of self-worth. Many of these Cadets grow up to be adults who continue to volunteer with Saint John Ambulance Brigade.
  • The Saint John Ambulance Life-saving Awards honour outstanding acts of bravery by ordinary Canadians who perform heroic acts
  • Saint John Ambulance provides annual scholarships to nursing students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Saint John Ambulance also markets a complete range of high quality first aid kits and supplies for use at home, work and play.

“We are Surrey’s best kept secret,” explains Branch Manager Mike Masellis.  He is quick to point to out they are not just a major presence in Surrey, as Saint John Ambulance has about 25 branches in the province. And wherever they are, the community of which they are part of clearly benefits. profits from first aid courses and the sale of supplies are re-invested to fund their work in the community. In 2013 alone, the organization had nearly 2300 volunteers in British Columbia who contributed almost 260 000 hours of volunteer time to their communities. Coast-to-coast, the number is over 25000 volunteers. “As a not for profit organization, the revenue earned by purchasing our products goes back into the various community service volunteer programs that we offer.” Mike invites community members to visit a Saint John Ambulance Branch to learn more about the training and community services they offer, as well as the first aid kits and supplies they offer for sale.  

The Surrey/Delta/Langley branch is located at 8911 152nd Street. The website is www.sja.ca