accessibility & help

New British Red Cross cycle response units make debut at Bristol Olympic Torch celebrations

23 May 2012

For immediate release  Wednesday 23 May, 2012
For further information  Samantha Whitwham
Contact number  0117 301 2624 or 07525 128 297

“Get on your bikes, British Red Cross” was the request from Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) yesterday when larger crowds than expected turned out to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch in Bristol.

A combination of Olympic fever and the glorious weather saw an estimated 35,000 people pack into the Amphitheatre, Millennium Square and along the waterfront to catch a glimpse of the famous flame.

The huge mass of people on site prompted GWAS to request backup support from Red Cross first aid volunteers to make sure members of the public attending the event received the medical help they needed in the event of illness or injury.

For the first time, the charity used two cycle response units (CRUs). The bikes have been custom built and are fully equipped to save lives with a defibrillator, advanced first aid kit and resuscitation equipment. With the bikes, Red Cross first aiders are able to swiftly navigate urban and crowded areas to quickly reach people in an emergency.

Paul Bodman, event first aid coordinator at the Red Cross, said: “As an organisation, the Red Cross are on hand to support GWAS at times when their service operates at full capacity. Yesterday, we were pleased to respond to their request to increase first aid cover at the Olympic Torch celebrations.

“The event gave us the opportunity to use our new CRUs for the first time. They are a fantastic bit of kit that really enhances our volunteers’ ability to respond immediately to emergencies and people in need of assistance. We were planning to use them for the first time at Badminton Horse Trials last month, but the torrential rain put pay to that, so it’s wonderful to finally see people out enjoying the sunshine.”

Pete Brown, GWAS lead planner for the Olympic Torch Relay, said: “The Red Cross is a valuable partner and we are very grateful for the support they have provided around the Olympic Torch Relay, helping to ensure that the thousands of people who turned out to see the event were safe and had rapid access to emergency care should they need it.”

The Red Cross has a proud history of providing first aid cover at major events in the region including the WOMAD festival and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, which regularly attracts crowds of 100,000.

Red Cross first aid volunteers are highly skilled and trained in advanced first aid and life-saving techniques, such as trauma management and defibrillator use. In 2011, British Red Cross volunteers provided first aid cover for 9,200 events throughout the UK, helping over 29,700 people.

The Red Cross is currently recruiting event first aid and logistics volunteers. Full training is provided and no prior first aid experience is required. To find out more, call Fiona Gundry on 0117 301 2622 or visit


Notes to editors

For more information on the British Red Cross please visit:

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.

Follow us on Twitter: BRC_West

Related Tags: