St John Ambulance: How do you create a demand for skills that people hope they will never need?

Emma Caldwell
Bartle Bogle Hegarty


This is a paper about communications that save lives.

It is the story of how fresh thinking helped to transform St John Ambulance from being seen as ‘those nice people who help at events’ into an essential life saving skills business.

150,000 people die each year in the UK because the people around them didn’t know First Aid. St John Ambulance was repositioned as the difference between life and death.

What would it be like to helplessly stand by as a loved one needlessly passed away because you didn’t have the skills to save them? By making First Aid personally relevant and terrifyingly urgent we made people sit up and take notice: it became an important skill.

This is also a paper about rethinking the role that communications could play for the organization. Communications were no longer about asking people to donate, but instead empowering them to become lifesavers.