First-aid charity St John Ambulance plan to set up a specially trained team of cycling medics in Sussex who can respond to emergencies at events that draw crowds.
The bicycle medics, known as operational cyclists, will be employed in areas where emergency vehicles struggle to respond quickly such as at festivals, demonstrations and sporting events.
Bikes have been used by St John Ambulance at large gatherings in Sussex before, but the charity have had to pull in additional help from other counties to meet demand.
The charity’s plan is to train seven additional volunteers in order to complete a Sussex-based Cycle Response Unit (CRU) which will be able to cover all events in East and West Sussex without resorting to outside help.
St John Ambulance introduced their operational cyclist scheme in 2004 with their London CRU, which have supported over 300 events across the capital since then.
Today, there are over 20 CRUs all over the country, providing a variety of events with highly trained medics on specially equipped mountain bikes carrying most of the vital equipment that you would find in an ambulance.
The South East regional operational cycling officer for St John Ambulance, Peter Leach, spoke to The Argus about the unit’s need for volunteers as well as the training that is expected of their operational cyclists.
“We are always looking for new volunteers who want to be trained in this role,” Leach said.
“These need to have a reasonable level of fitness, already comfortable on a bike, and who would like to learn how to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
“We train [the volunteers] up to the Bikeability Level 3 and also carry out some fitness training. This includes a 1km sprint bike ride, immediately followed by doing a full cardiopulmonary resuscitation – the energetic chest compression needed if someone’s heart stops.
“Each bike carries a huge variety of equipment from bandages and aspirin to oxygen and an defibrillator which is also used to restart people’s hearts.
For more information about how you could volunteer to be an operational cyclist in your area, the St John Ambulance website directs you to their introduction to volunteering page.
The Sussex CRU will be providing medical support to both the Brighton Marathon on April 6 and the London to Brighton bike ride.