St Andrew’s Ambulance association was established in 1882 by a group of medics for the purpose of providing an ambulance service. In 1884 the first ambulance first aid handbook written by George Beatson (Beatson Institute) was published.
Interest in the Association and its work created desire to replicate it across Scotland in the 1890’s. After the awarding of the Royal Charter by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1899, the Association continued to develop including the easily identifiable uniforms and the introduction of more specialised equipment such as pit stretchers.
The 1900’s brought the introduction of St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps. This was the establishment of the Corps companies, consisting of volunteers who qualified as First Aiders, who provided first aid classes and the provision of first aid services at events. The Corps is at the very heart of St Andrew’s First Aid today. The introduction of the horse drawn ambulance further developed the services provided as services as serious casualties could be taken to hospital.
St Andrew’s personnel where heavily involved during the First World War that started in 1914; we were part of the army’s foreign service unit and nursing unit on the front line. At home we helped transport injured servicemen on ambulance trains and forward them to hospitals.
The success and advancement of St Andrew’s Ambulance Association continued after the first world war to the extent that a new headquarter was required. This decade marks the opening of a brand-new HQ in North Street, Glasgow.
St Andrew’s senior management assisted and facilitated the establishment of an integrated air ambulance service in Scotland. We helped coordinate the process and met the returning aircraft to transport casualties to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. This was the first ever coordinated air ambulance service ever to take place in Scotland.
During the course of the second world war, once again St Andrew’s servicemen and nurses joined the armed forces in action. We provided support at home, notably for US injured soldiers at Cowglen Hospital in Glasgow.
Post war St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps companies could be found all over Scotland, in commerce and industry, railway stations, mining pits, industrial companies to name a few. Our presence could be found throughout society, and it was recognised with the Corps Jubilee Review where we were reviewed at Ibrox Stadium by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.
Following the 1962 open golf championship at Troon, when tents were used for the first aid posts the Association obtained a caravan especially fitted out for use at outdoor events where accommodation for a first aid post was not available within a building, this was the first ever Mobile First Aid Post in Scotland. We still use MFAPS today!
One of our regular duties is providing first aid cover at football matches, which continues still to this day. This was the case in 1971 at the well documented tragic Ibrox disaster where 66 people lost their lives. Our First Aiders on duty that day along with ambulance men and police, were the first to render assistance to the injured and to those that died that day. This decade also saw us move onto new headquarters which was opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in Milton Street, Glasgow, where we are still based, and it also saw the 75th anniversary of St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps.
On the 30th of June 1982 a service of Thanksgiving was held at Glasgow Cathedral to celebrate the Association’s Centenary attended by our patron HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. A Civic lunch was also hosted for the Association that was hosted by the city of Glasgow.
First aid provision continued to develop with the modernisation of vehicles and equipment. This decade established our presence at open air concerts, such as T in the Park, providing first aid cover at concerts has become a significant activity for us in present times.
In 2006 we began trading as St Andrew’s First Aid to distinguish us from the Ambulance Service. By the 2000’s the number of companies in the Corps was significantly reduced to around 60. However, the range of skills and the development of training continued to develop and progress in line with modern day practices; this was achieved by theoretical and practical courses as well as practice in company training nights. Notable events at this time include the appointment of HRH, the Princess Royal as Patron in 2003 and the St Andrew’s Corps Centenary in 2004.
In this decade there was much emphasis put on community training in the form of the introduction of Talks and Demos; these demonstrated various first aid techniques in communities across Scotland. In 2014 whilst attending an event in George Square in Glasgow the Glasgow Bin Lorry crash took place. Our team being close by were first to respond with assistance to those injured/affected. We then continued to assist paramedics when they arrived.
The 2020’s have allowed St Andrew’s First Aid to continue with our mission of Creating a Nation of Lifesavers. We currently have over 900 volunteers across Scotland who provide event cover all over the country from musical festivals such as TRNSMT all the way to community halls. We also have launched our Ready for Life Programme which was designed to provide young people skills so that they are ready for life beyond school. We keep aiming higher & higher and continue to thrive with the help of your kind donations, our amazing volunteers and support.