When you think of St John Ambulance, 11th Century armoured Crusaders may not be the first image that comes to mind. It was, however, these knights that helped the holy brothers in Jerusalem care for the sick and injured, also known as Knights Hospitallers. It was this partnership that would later evolve into the Order of St John.

Fast forward some 800 years to 1877 when St John Ambulance was established in England, with uniformed brigades of volunteers teaching and providing first aid to members of the public. Just over a decade later, the Order of St John was granted a Royal Order of Chivalry by the Queen.

The movement traversed the vast Indian Ocean, bringing St John Ambulance to Australia in 1883 and South Australia in 1885. Since then, the organisation has evolved from its first aid origins to establishing the state ambulance service in 1951. It later transitioned the service over to SA Ambulance Service in 1992 so that St John could once again focus on first aid provision, social inclusion and youth development.

These focuses remain the primary services of the modern day St John Ambulance SA.