accessibility & help

First aiders under starters' orders for Olympic challenge

11 July 2012

For immediate release  Wednesday 11 July, 2012
For further information  Samantha Whitwham (
Contact number  0117 301 2624 or 07525 128 297

British Red Cross and St John Ambulance volunteers are joining forces for a massive first aid operation designed to ensure top quality medical cover for the Olympic sailing events in Weymouth and Portland.

The nation's leading first aid charities will be providing over 350 volunteers for next month’s opening ceremonies and sailing events in Weymouth. They will also provide medical cover for the Olympic torch relay through Weymouth and Bournemouth and for the three-day Cultural Olympiad ‘Battle for the Winds’.

Under a contract with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, the two charities are now working together on the biggest first aid challenge ever undertaken in the county.

The joint medical team will include first aiders, doctors, nurses and paramedics from all over Dorset as well as volunteers being recruited from across the UK, including as far afield as County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

They will man five ambulances and first aid posts including an advanced care centre with high-tech life support facilities.

Robert Ashton, principal service delivery officer for Dorset St John Ambulance, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Dorset and we’re proud to be part of it. Our members are trained to deal with any first aid emergency, from cut fingers to cardiac arrests. In the worst case scenario they’re ready to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”

Emma Marshall, programme manager at the Red Cross, said: “Our volunteers are all excited to play such an important role in keeping spectators safe during the Olympic celebrations in Weymouth. Volunteers from both organisations have been eager to sign up to help provide the high levels of cover needed with over 50,000 people descending on Weymouth throughout the duration of the games.  It is a huge task but our competent and highly-trained volunteers have up-to-the-minute first aid skills to respond to any medical emergency.”

Volunteers from both charities will be giving up their free time to provide first aid cover throughout the Olympic events. With extensive first aid and medical facilities throughout Weymouth, the volunteers will be able to treat many casualties at the scene who would otherwise need hospital treatment.

There will be ten St John Ambulance and Red Cross cycle response units and another 18 first aid volunteers on foot, all capable of reaching casualties through the dense crowds faster than a land ambulance. There is even a golf-buggy mini-ambulance to respond to casualties at a designated beach sports arena. Their first aid kits will include medical gases and automated external defibrillators.

The first aid teams will be in place for the 10 sailing events taking place from 29 July until 11 August, at the Live Beach site in Weymouth and along the ‘Last Mile’ route – from the train station through the town to the waterfront.

St John Ambulance will provide medical cover for the ‘Festival of the Sea’ at Bayside Pavilion and British Red Cross first aiders will be on hand at the ticketed spectator venue.

For further press information please contact:

British Red Cross – Sam Whitwham, Tel: 0117 301 2624, Mob: 07525 128 297

St John Ambulance - Ann Knight, Tel: 01752 223192, Mob: 07858 101356. 

•         Ann and Samantha can be contacted throughout the Olympic sailing events to provide updates on the number of casualties treated by first aid volunteers and to set up interviews where required.

Note to editors:

About St John Ambulance

•         St John Ambulance has 44,000 volunteers including 737 in Dorset

•         Last year we taught first aid to 800,000 people in local communities, schools and workplaces.

•         Every year, up to 150,000* people die in situations where first aid could have given them a chance to live.  St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so that they can be the difference. *Using death registration data from the Office of National Statistics, 2008 (for England and Wales), April 2010.

About the British Red Cross

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

During the Olympics, Red Cross volunteers will be present in London’s main transport hubs, as well as at the sailing site in Dorset, to provide first aid cover for the anticipated large crowds of spectators.  First aiders will also be on hand at Olympic locations from the official East London camp site to the live big screens in Blackheath. Meanwhile the organisation will be ready to respond across the capital and indeed the UK, working alongside the emergency services, councils and utility companies to offer comfort and support in case of a crisis.

Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_West

Related Tags: