First aiders on their bikes at Tour de France

cycle responders

St John Ambulance will be joining in with the cycling spirit during the UK leg of theTour de France by using their cycling first aiders in addition to their ambulance and first aid station volunteers.

As the UK’s leading first aid organisation we will have 600 volunteers, including 10 on bikes, who will care for the crowd over the three-day event. There will be 44 first aid stations and 60 ambulances in total.

Each bike, known as a Cycle Response Unit ( CRU ) will carry oxygen and an AED as well as basic and advanced life saving equipment. The bikes allow the trained first aiders to reach incidents much more easily than ambulances in many crowd situations, so casualties can be treated quickly.

With our mixture of first aid and cycling skills, we are well placed to respond quickly to emergencies and less serious conditions

Ashley Sweetland
Deputy Staff Officer

Ashley Sweetland, Deputy Staff Officer on the CRU , says: ‘Up to two million spectators are expected over the course of the event. With our mixture of first aid and cycling skills, we are well placed to respond quickly to emergencies and less serious conditions.’

This is the first year the race will start in the UK but St John Ambulance first aiders have vast experience caring for spectators at busy events like the Flora London Marathon, Lords cricket matches and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. The charity will be the prime provider of first aid cover at the London 2012 Olympics.

Injuries in the crowds will depend on the weather but could vary from sunburn if the weather is hot to hypothermia if spectators stand around in cold conditions for too long. Typical injuries for crowds at sporting events include cuts, blisters and headaches but St John Ambulance first aiders are also trained for more serious conditions like heart attacks.

Seamus Kelly, OBE, Commissioner of St John Ambulance in London, said: ‘We’re experiencing very changeable weather at the moment and it’s important for people to be prepared.

‘If the weather is hot, follow our Strawberries and sun cream advice. Don’t go strawberry-red, apply sun cream regularly; also protect yourself with a hat and loose clothing during the hottest part of the day and drink water frequently.

‘If the weather is cold or wet, take extra layers and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Wear sun cream, in case of sun, and take an extra pair of socks – wet feet can be uncomfortable and keeping feet dry can prevent blisters and fungal infections.’

The event will see:

  • Four first aid stations and 100 volunteers at Friday’s opening ceremony around Trafalgar square and Whitehall.
  • 19 first aid stations and 200 volunteers on both sides of the route at Saturday’s time trial in Westminster.
  • 20 first aid stations plus 300 volunteers concentrated in the main towns along the route, such as Dartford and Maidstone, at Sunday’s race from Hyde Park to Canterbury.
  • One first aid station in the People’s Village in Hyde Park.
  • 60 ambulances along the route.
  • St John Ambulance volunteers from Northern Ireland, Manchester, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Merseyside and Leeds as well as London and Kent.
  • 70 Cadet volunteers (young members aged 10-17).

Hot weather tips from St John Ambulance:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from sunburn to your head, face, ears and neck.
  • Look for shady areas such as under trees and canopies, especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun’s rays are at their hottest.
  • Stay covered up in loose fitting, long-sleeved clothing.
  • Wear high-quality wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes and eyelids.
  • Be extra careful with children; babies and children less than 12 months old should be kept out of the sun completely.
  • Take plenty of non-alcoholic drinks with you and sip little and often to keep hydrated.

Wet weather tips from St John Ambulance:

  • Bring a jumper and hat to keep you warm – the temperature is likely to drop when it’s raining.
  • Take a cagoule or mac with you to shield yourself from the rain.
  • Remember to wear sun cream – even on an overcast day the sun’s rays can still be harmful.
  • Bring an umbrella with you…not only will you be protected from the rain but if the sun comes out later you can protect yourself from the sun too.
  • Bring a clean pair of dry socks with you to prevent fungal infections developing if your feet get wet.

St John Ambulance will have a tent in the People’s Village staffed by volunteers so the public can visit and ask questions about how to volunteer for events including the London 2012 Olympics.