Guernsey’s Deputy Bailiff has praised the work of St John Ambulance Guernsey staff and volunteers as the charity marks the 25th anniversary of the Flying Christine III marine ambulance.
Mr Richard McMahon was speaking at a breakfast reception at the Guernsey Yacht Club on Saturday, which was attended by representatives from Sark, Herm and Jethou, current and former St John volunteers and ex-ambulance staff, including some of the original Flying Christine III crew.
Mr McMahon said: “The Flying Christine is a vital element of the health care provision that we have for the benefit of the community across the Bailiwick of Guernsey and for visitors we welcome here. The community owes a debt of gratitude to all those who are prepared to go out in all weather conditions to provide medical attention to those who need it. The Bailiwick is blessed with people who are prepared to give of their time to help people so freely and the volunteers who help the permanent staff at St John do a fantastic job for all of us.”
Chief Ambulance Officer Mark Mapp added: “Having served as a paramedic on the Flying Christine for many years I know what a vital role it plays as a lifeline for the islands of the Bailiwick. It is essentially an emergency ambulance, kitted out like any of our road ambulances. The only difference is this one if not kept in a garage it is moored in the harbour. As Chief Officer I am extremely proud of the Flying Christine and her crews.”
During the event the St John marine ambulance was blessed by Father Marc Trickey, the Commandery Chaplain and Revd Dr David Coulter, St John Chaplain. The short ceremony included prayers for the crews, volunteers and for the service of St John, as well as a reading from St John cadet Olivia Harrison.
Bill Slimm who was part of the original crew in 1994 said; “It was brilliant to met up with some of my former colleagues and share some memories of our time on the boat. Looking back, we had some challenging cases, including some long searches. I enjoyed my time on both Flying Christine II and III. I was fond of Christine II but III was a good boat. When I retired from the ambulance service the thing I missed the most was being on the boats.”
The current St John marine ambulance was officially named and launched by HRH The Duke of Gloucester at a ceremony on 28th November 1994 and her first mission was for a medical emergency in Sark. She is the third vessel to carry the name Flying Christine.
The Flying Christine III is a mobile medical treatment centre, equipped like a road ambulance with the capability of taking advanced medical care to patients in the other islands and transporting casualties to Guernsey for further treatment.
The Flying Christine III is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year and is operated by volunteer boat crew from the local maritime community and medical clinicians from the emergency ambulance service. The marine ambulance is not funded by the States of Guernsey and relies entirely on charitable donations and bequests.
The 25th anniversary event was attended by representatives of the other emergency services, Health and Social Care, Guernsey Harbours and the RNLI as well as St John members and supporters. It marks the start of a series of events to celebrate the work of the St John marine ambulance.