St John Ambulance Victoria is a charity in the community working for the Service of Humanity and exist to help those who are in sickness, distress, suffering or danger. St John has been a trusted and reassuring presence in the Victorian community for more than 136 years. Activities and programs run by St John aim to build resilience in and give confidence to the communities which they serve. This includes first aid training, first aid kits and supplies, event health services, kit servicing, patient transport, and community programs including the First Aid in Schools program, CPR Lab, Community Transport and volunteers providing their skills to the community. A diverse organisation, St John can best be described as a social enterprise. By taking the proceeds from the sale of services and products like first aid training and defibrillators, St John redistributes funds to their community programs that serve their life-saving mission. St John is a market leader in the first aid category, with 89% awareness in the Victorian community as a first aid provider, which is well ahead of any other competitor. St John is highly trusted as the experts in this field.
With hundreds of first aid training providers in Victoria delivering similar training experiences, there has been little to no innovation in the industry for decades. The core differences between providers was the time taken to deliver training and the cost of training. Consequently, first aid training was regressing into a commodity-based industry with insufficient focus on the outcome, which should be a confident first aider who acts decisively and correctly when called upon. Unfortunately, St John has seen a decline in student numbers year on year, so it was necessary for the business to gain a competitive advantage and encourage more students through its doors by disrupting the industry and reinforcing its leadership role.
In this climate the project ‘Reinforce and Disrupt First Aid Training’ was born – with the goal of transformational change in how accredited first aid qualifications are delivered. The traditional learning assets used by trainers was PowerPoint slides interspersed with practical exercises and paper-based assessments. This traditional method for first aid training did not take advantage of the many new technologies across other disciplines, such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 360 video and smartphone or tablet use. Injecting digital delivery and student focused technological improvements where appropriate was the solution proposed by St John. The goal for the project was to complement trainer delivery, not replace the trainer, as first aid training requires accredited trainers to assess competence through observation in prescribed practicals. So, by releasing the trainer from non-value adding activities, trainers could focus on practical assessments and student engagement. It was expected this would allow learners to better retain knowledge of their newly acquired lifesaving skills with confidence and accuracy. As part of the solution, an app was developed by Start VR for the trainer to integrate and control the experience for each student, assessing as they go. The app was fully customised and integrated into St John system architecture. To ensure compliance and minimise bugs, the solutions were tested by the project team and internal stakeholders. Key clients were engaged early with the understanding they were trialling a new product to identify pitfalls and challenges, with their feedback funnelled into the creative process. In May 2019, there was a public launch of the VR solution to internal stakeholders, consumers and the media across multiple channels.
The SJx project has resulted in multiple positive outcomes for St John and the wider community, being Time Saved, Student Engagement, Student Growth, Societal Progress and Organisational Progress. A key measure of success for SJx was the time saved in training, with approximately 30% delivered in time savings across the board. The SJx project has also created a more streamlined learning experience to embed knowledge, as students are also better able to fit shorter training commitments around a busy work and life schedule. The project has also caused a reduction in trainer costs for St John, with savings channelled towards community programs. The SJx project has made training times shorter, meaning more people are willing and able to undertake training, resulting in more confident first aiders in the community. Growth in student numbers proved this as St John saw a 7% increase in 2019. Importantly, SJx has successfully delivered a point of difference for St John in its training delivery, providing a more engaging course that truly brings to life first aid by immersing the student into real-life scenarios they can better recall when faced with these situations themselves.