July 18 2023: As more people look for ‘staycation’ destinations in the UK due to the rise in cost of living, St John Ambulance’s “Seaside Support Team” hopes to work with councils across England over the next few years to make beaches and their communities safer.
Once set up in coastal towns, teams of volunteers will be on stand-by during busy weekends and public holidays, and will work with local NHS services, emergency services, and councils to provide first aid and welfare support for members of the public who need it on the beach.
The project follows a successful pilot in 2021, which saw St John volunteers reduce pressures on local NHS services in Great Yarmouth and Hunstanton.
During a period of two months, St John volunteers treated over 80 people, with only 5% requiring an ambulance. 30% were referred to alternative healthcare providers for follow-up appointments, and the remaining 65% were treated and assessed at the scene – preventing further avoidable hospital admissions.
Naomi Ahmed, Community Operations Manager for St John, said: “Our highly skilled volunteers will be there to help treat anything from heat-related injuries and illnesses, to bumps, scrapes, falls and welfare support for those who may be struggling. They will also be there to respond quickly to serious emergencies, such as cardiac arrests – when every second counts.”
Tying into the charity's new 10-year ambition to help build stronger and more resilient communities, St John hopes to run free lifesaving awareness sessions on the beach, for members of the public to learn CPR and how to use defibrillators too.
Naomi adds: “We want everyone to have the confidence to feel they know what to do in an emergency and be able to step up and help save a life. Running these public awareness sessions will help make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn these important lifesaving skills.
“We look forward to working with councils across the country to help deliver this new offering in local seaside communities - so we can all work together to help make the areas we love and enjoy safer – as well as help take the pressure off our NHS colleagues where we can.”
As well as helping to provide lifesaving first aid to the public, having the 'Seaside Support Team’ set up in a local coastal town will help councils work towards meeting their criteria for a ‘Blue Flag Beach’ award.
St John Ambulance hopes to roll this service out nationwide across England over the next few years, and is encouraging councils, or members of the public who think it may work well in their coastal town, to get in touch with St John for more information by emailing: Seaside.Economy@sja.org.uk