Ambulance service out to recruit cycling first aiders in Oxfordshire

Lucy Bruzzone led a team of St John Ambulance cycle responders in Bicester. Volunteers are now needed to join the first aid cyclists

Lucy Bruzzone led a team of St John Ambulance cycle responders in Bicester. Volunteers are now needed to join the first aid cyclists

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

ST John Ambulance leaders are looking for volunteers to join their growing team of first aid cyclists.

The St John Ambulance Cycle Responders are hoping to more than double the size of their teams across Oxfordshire.

There are currently nine cycle responders across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

South East cycling officer Peter Leach wants that number to be expanded to at least 20 core cycle responders.

He said: “Bikes can get places ambulances can’t at public events.”

Mr Leach helped to save a man’s life last year after he collapsed at the Romsey Show in Hampshire, and the bike managed to reach him before an ambulance could.

He said: “I got there three or four minutes before an ambulance and gave him oxygen.”

The cycle responders were first set up six years ago, but there are still not enough members.

Mr Leach said: “We already have a small team of cycle responders but there aren’t enough of them to cover the events for which we receive requests.

“We are always looking for new volunteers who want to be trained in this role.”

Cycle responders on mountain bikes have enough equipment to make it a “mini ambulance on two wheels”.

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Mr Leach, 29, said: “Each bike carries a huge variety of equipment, from bandages and aspirin to oxygen and an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED, which is also used to restart people’s hearts.”

Potential recruits are trained to cope with the skills and physical exertions of the job.

Mr Leach said: “We train them up to the Bikeability Level 3 and also carry out some fitness training, including a 1km sprint bike ride followed by a full CPR session.

“We need everyone to be at the same standard.”

One of Oxford’s cycle responders is Craig Raven, 31, who has been part of the team for four years.

The Witney traffic officer said: “I wanted to try something different and try out the medical response bikes. They’re perfectly designed for areas that are difficult to get through with an ambulance.

“A lot of pedestrianised areas are big, dangerous areas where you can’t go quickly. With a bike you can take shortcuts.”

Lucy Bruzzone led a unit of cycle responders in 2012.

She said: “We are finding that more and more events are benefiting from them being on hand to reach casualties far more quickly than a team on foot can.”

  • There will be courses on April 12 and July 7 and 8 to train up new volunteers to allow them to become cycle responders. For more information contact Mr Leach on 07747 766554 or email peter.leach@sja.org.uk

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