Dedicated St John Ambulance volunteers bike their way to victory

Tuesday 3 April 2007

cycle responders

The outstanding achievement of St John Ambulance's cycle response unit ( CRU ) for London – which delivers first aid by bike - was recognised at Transport for London's (TfL) first ever Cycling Communities Awards held on Monday 2 April.

The awards are a celebration of the important role that many community groups and 999 emergency service teams play in making cycling an activity that is open to all Londoners. The event was presented by television presenter and keen cyclist, Adam Hart-Davis and Jenny Jones, the Mayor of London's Green Transport Advisor.

Cycling is on the increase in the capital and at St John Ambulance, with our mixture of first aid and cycling skills, we are well placed to respond quickly to emergencies. Our award is testament to the efforts of the whole team

Ashley Sweetland
Deputy leader, Cycle response unit

Cycling development award

St John Ambulance was awarded the cycling development award for the organisation who had done the most to develop cycling within their establishment in the last year.

Seamus Kelly, Commissioner for St John Ambulance in London, said: 'We are delighted to receive this award. We've invested heavily in our cycle response unit so that last year we were able to treat patients at over 40 London events, including the Notting Hill Carnival and Flora London Marathon.

'Our programme is entirely voluntary and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our hard-working volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in London who needs first aid is able to receive it.'

Important role

David Warman Jnr, 37, who is Staff Officer in the CRU , feels that these units have an important role to play: 'In the 30 years I've spent in St John Ambulance, joining the CRU has been one of the most enjoyable parts. We have a very good team here who work hard to support casualties.

'At the 2006 Tour of Britain race, while patrolling the area on our bikes, my fellow staff officer and I heard a screech of brakes and saw a motorbike flying through the air before landing in the crowd. We rushed over and took control of the situation.

'One motorcyclist had a severe head and facial wound that was spurting blood. We immediately applied a dressing and kept the man still in the position he landed in until our colleagues at the London Ambulance Service arrived. He was just one of seven casualties, three of which had life-threatening injuries. The incident used every skill and ability we'd ever been trained in and showed how vital CRU s are in providing first aid as quickly as possible.'

Advocate

Ashley Sweetland is Deputy Staff Officer in the London CRU . He is 23 and has been with St John Ambulance since he was 8, joining the CRU 2 years ago. He was given a special mention in the cycling advocate award for his tireless work with the CRU at St John Ambulance. He too is pleased with the team award:

'This is brilliant recognition of our work in London. Cycling is on the increase in the capital and at St John Ambulance, with our mixture of first aid and cycling skills, we are well placed to respond quickly to emergencies. Our award is testament to the efforts of the whole team.'

Members needed

Although the CRU members give their time voluntarily, to set up a CRU is a costly business. The unit consists of a bike (£1000), a pannier (£750) containing the kit (£2500) and a fully trained, uniformed member of staff (costing £1700 to train and kit out).

There are currently 35 members in the London CRU but they would like to increase their total to 100 in time for their duties at the London 2012 Olympics.

Peter McBride, Transport for London's Head of Cycling, Walking and Accessibility said: 'TfL would like to congratulate the winners and nominees of the awards for their dedication and commitment to cycling, and for their contributions in making cycling an everyday activity that can be enjoyed by, and open to, all Londoners.'

CRU s can't continue without community support. If you would like to donate to the London CRU please contact Cycle-Unit@london.sja.org.uk.