When Guernsey’s St John Ambulance & Rescue Service started in 1936 it obtained a small number of wheelchairs, commodes, crutches, air rings and draw sheets to help patients. As a service to the people of the island these were offered for hire to members of the public.
As items were added the monies raised from the hire service covered the cost of cleaning or servicing the items, and of replacement when required. Any surplus assisted with the expenses of running the rescue services.
The idea proved to be popular and over the next few years the stock increased as new purchases were made and donations of equipment and money were received from the public.
During the Second World War severe shortages were experienced as the Channel Islands were isolated from the rest of Great Britain and later from mainland Europe. The staff and volunteers of St John managed to continue the hire service by maintaining equipment with a considerable degree of skill and ingenuity using the scarce materials available.
Post war the service expanded, it became more popular as people found that disability did not necessarily mean a restriction of activities as appropriate equipment was used. Callers to St John Headquarters who wished to hire items were served by the on-duty ambulance staff.
In 1968 a dedicated store for equipment used in the ambulances was built at St John Headquarters. A full-time storekeeper who had responsibility for issuing medical consumables and equipment to staff, also served the public who required hire items.
With the increase in demand, the range and complexity of items became even greater and it became necessary to separate the hire and sales of medical equipment from the general ambulance service stores. In 1981 a dedicated health care shop was opened, and from this time assistants employed solely to help with the Centre.
Today’s modern St John Health Care Shop was opened in 1995.